ASRU's Director, Rebecca Hodes, publishes an article on 'Bad medicine: the past and present toxic "cures" in the Daily Maverick

12 May 2020 - 05:45

In this article, Rebecca Hodes (director of ASRU) recounts the recent comments by US President Donald Trump on the prospective uses of disinfectants, including by 'injection inside', to treat or prevent COVID-19. Through the lens of medical history, Hodes explores the past and present of toxic 'cures', both globally and in South Africa. She focuses on the history of household detergents to end unwanted pregnancies, and documents the ways in which the corporations that manufacture these chemicals have profited from their poisonous repurposing. Hodes also questions the role of political leaders in promoting dangerous curative claims, at critical junctures in pandemic histories. She focuses on the case of 'Virodene', in which South Africa's former Minister of Health, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, championed a toxic drug that was touted as an AIDS treatment, violating bioethical protocols and championing the experimentation of the drug on people with AIDS. Hodes concludes her article by stating: The COVID-19 pandemic is a new catastrophe, but some of its features are familiar, including the political and popular responses it has evoked. In remembering our mistakes, facing up to their legacies in the present, and scrutinising and refuting dangerous claims for the future, there is hope for improving public health in the wake of COVID-19.'

The article is available at: DAILY MAVERICK

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