The African Region like Asia and South America is blessed with countless plant species, many, with already known medicinal properties.
Over 50, 000 species of such plants are in sub-Saharan Africa of which it is believed 25% were in use for centuries for treatment and disease prevention. Out of these, Nigeria has over 8000 species with potential benefits in ethno-medicine or ethno-pharmacy.
With these facts, the Minister of State, Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said that the recognition of three healthcare systems by World Health Organization(WHO) namely: conventional, traditional and complementary is a wakeup call for Africans to also begin to review the traditional healthcare system for untapped benefits from those medicinal plants, as Indians and Chinese had done.
The Minister made this call recently, in Abuja while briefing the press at the 2018 celebration of African Traditional Medicine day, theme: Local Manufacturing of African Traditional Medicine Products in the African Region.
According to Ehanire, Nigeria is rich in flora, fauna and blessed with creative minds; as such, she had the potential to utilize natural resources for health, nutritional and economic benefits.
In this regards the Minister informed that the Federal Ministry of Health, Agencies and Stakeholders were studying modalities to give traditional medicine a place in the nation’s health system by:-
Setting up Traditional Medicine Development division and upgrading it to Department of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) to formulate policies and guidelines in development, research and regulation of herbal medicine and facilitate establishment of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine hospitals with international collaboration for qualitative healthcare delivery.
The Ministerial Committee on Herbal, Complementary and Alternative Medicines (TCAM) developed curriculum for Training Herbal Medical Practitioners in Medical Schools; Introduction of traditional medicine modules into medical and nursing students training curriculum; Expansion of pharmacy students training in traditional medicine and
The review of the code of ethics and practice for TCAM, amongst others.
This year’s theme, the Minister maintained complemented current agriculture revolution and provide opportunities for cultivation of indigenous medicinal plants and health related goals to incorporate Traditional Medicine to the National Health System and economy-related goals to reduce importation of medicines and promote export of Nigerian manufactured Traditional Medicine products.
Ehanire therefore stressed that Government would support research and create liaison with traditional healers with a head start in knowledge of plants, to develop, formulate and commercialize research findings into medicinal products.
In her welcome address, the Head of Department, Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Federal Ministry of Health, Hajia Zainab Sherriff, said the African Traditional Medicine Day was set aside because of the need to move the agenda of traditional medicine forward and to further recognize that Africa was blessed with vast species of medicinal plants which could generate revenue for the African region, if harness.
In his goodwill message, the WHO country representative to Nigeria, Dr. Wondi Alemu, said that the theme of the celebration highlighted the need to promote and enhance local manufacturing for better access to quality-assured medicines.
Dr. Alemu who was represented by Dr. Hamzat Omotayo, commended the leadership of the Ministry for establishing the traditional medicines department in the Federal Ministry of Health. This feat, according to Dr. Alemu, was a move that would engender action towards the manufacturing of traditional medicines and inclusion of some of those products on the Essentials Medicines list which would contribute to improving access to quality traditional medicine products.
Also speaking, the Director General (DG), Nigeria Institute of Pharmaceutical Research Development (NIPRD) Dr. Peter Adigwe, said that NIPRD’s objective directly revolved around impacting lives with African medicinal products.
He noted that the theme of the celebration was apt given that the full potentials of African medicinal products in Nigeria though enormous, was yet untapped.
He therefore said NIPRD was poised to ensure that African products impacted on the lives of Africans all over the world.
The Head, Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association, Dr. Mohammed Jawa appealed for a legislative backing for the exportation of Traditional medicinal products to other countries. This, he opined would generate revenue, boost the economy and improved the welfare of the practitioners.