$2M Candy Order Turns Bitter for Top Official

Madagascar's education minister is even out of a job
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2020 2:35 PM CDT
$2M Candy Order Turns Bitter for Top Official
In this Dec. 19, 2018 file photo, then-presidential candidate Andry Rajoelina casts his ballot during a runoff presidential election in Antananarivo, Madagascar.   (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Which idea will get your country's education minister fired? A) Giving school children an untested coronavirus remedy. B) Planning to order more than $2 million in candies to cover the remedy's "bitter" taste. If you guessed B, you know why Madagascar's education minister, Rijasoa Andriamanana, is out of a job. But President Andry Rajoelina remains fully behind the herbal tonic Covid-Organics as a cure for the virus that has infected nearly 1,000 on the island nation and over 6.5 million worldwide, the BBC reports. "If it was a European country that had actually discovered this remedy, would there be so much doubt?" he said, shrugging off criticism of the drink. "I don't think so."

Time took a deep dive into Covid-Organics and Madagascar's culture of traditional remedies—which is so ingrained that people there often prefer herbal cures to pharmaceutical products for everyday health issues like headaches or stomach aches. But WHO responded with a strong rebuke, saying untested products "can put people in danger" and give "a false sense of security" that distracts them from precautionary pandemic measures like hand-washing. Yet Rajoelina appears undeterred, and the head of a local conservation NGO says the drink at least works as an immune booster. "Could it work as a cure?" she asks Time. "Maybe, at least psychologically." (Read more Africa stories.)

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