The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olurunnimbe Mamora has stated that Africa must pause and reflect on how well it has fared in the promotion, developing researching and ultimate integration of traditional medicine into the main stream of health care delivery system.
Dr. Mamora made this statement at a ministerial press briefing to mark the 2020 African Traditional Medicine Day celebration with the theme “Two Decades of African Traditional Medicine (2001-2020): What Progress in Countries?”
The Minister of State, said the current COVID-19 pandemic has brought the entire world to its knees due to its ravaging effect on health, economy and social well-being of humanity, with countries inevitably being forced to look inwards for local solution which makes the time for stock taking of achievement and failure in traditional Medicine sector, now.
“You will recall that Madagascar came up with a herbal product, called Covid Organics which claims to be preventive and curative for COVID-19, although this claim is yet to be scientifically proven, but it would not be out of place to acknowledge this effort and its a good step in African continent. I must commend the gallant efforts of some of our herbal practitioners who made similar moves in this regard; we urge them to step forward to be counted”, the Minister of State, said.
Speaking further, Dr. Mamora said that in Nigeria, we are blessed with over 8,000 species of medicinal plants which provides low hanging fruits for the production of agro allied pharmaceutical raw materials, herbal medicines, trado medicines and body care products to mention a few. Looking inward, the Federal Ministry of Health has requested traditional herbal medicine practitioner who claim to have herbal medicines for the management of COVID-19 to submit such claims for necessary evaluation and validation.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Mr. Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi said in his opening remarks that in view of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world; it has become increasingly necessary to look at strategies by all countries to tackle this novel Corona Virus. “It is worthy of mention that since COVID-19 was discovered, Nigeria has also joined the world in the search for cure and management of this virus. Various traditional medicine practitioners have submitted claims for products with potential to cure this disease. These products have been fully handed to NIPRD and NAFDAC for further evaluation. This development is evidence of Government’s commitment and involvement towards the development, promotion of traditional medicine and its gradual integration into the main health care delivery system.”
A member of the ad-hoc Committee on Health, at the National Assembly, Hon. Dr. Shehu Balarabe Kakale, reiterated support for the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Government in tightening the loopholes in the area of Alternative, Traditional and Complimentary Medicine for the benefit of Nigerians. “80% of Nigerians use traditional medicine one way or the other and have got remedies and succor in many areas concerning their health and well-being, with the current new support in the sector, a lot could be achieved in reducing medical tourism, improving health and welfare of Nigerians and of course, creating jobs to boost the economy.” He further assured of the support of his colleagues at the National Assembly to do their best in continuous, seamless and harmonious relationship in passing bills and other resolution of the Traditional Medicine Association as well as the institution that certify this products for the benefits of Nigerians.
Similarly, the Director General of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Adigwe said that for the first time in the Country’s history an interdisciplinary team of over 20 eminent and erudite Professors drawn from various universities and geopolitical regions were convened to form the National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC) on the verification of claims by Traditional Medicines Practitioners. This landmark achievement not only ensures that Corona virus cure claims are subjected to the highest international science, it also ensures that the highest relevant standards of safety and efficacy are maintained, in order to safeguard the lives of Nigerians.
He further informed of the commencement of its nationwide training and capacity building of Traditional Medicines Practitioners. “This year, the activity being decentralized to states and rural areas to ensure a robust and comprehensive engagement with Governors, sub-national policymakers and regulators, as well as to mitigate identified challenges such as paucity of funds, limited information technology capacity and poor understanding of scientific, policy and regulatory processes”, he stated. In his words: “NIPRD remains committed to undertaking activities that foster and stimulate ground-breaking evidence based methodologies and policies that would enable the inherent fulfilment of health and socioeconomic potential associated with African Traditional Medicines.”
By Blessing Efem,
Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Information, Media & Public Relations.