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10,000 Traditional Medicinal Species: Potentials for Nigeria’s Developmental Goals, – Sen. Mamora

The Minister of State for Health Sen. Adeleke Mamora, says Nigeria is endowed with over 10,000 species of Medicinal Plants, good arable land, good climatic conditions for harnessing the potentials of these plants for health, social, economic and national developmental goals.

Mamora said this on Saturday at the Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) conference organised by his office in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja.

According to World Health Organization, Medicinal Plant refers to a whole or any part of the plant that contains bioactive substances that can be used for therapeutic purposes or serve as precursors for the synthesis of drugs.

Nigeria has also established a full-fledged TCAM Department in the Ministry to formulate review and implement policies and guidelines for research, development and regulation of herbal medicines in Nigeria.

The country Launched the Traditional Medicine Policy in 2007, one of the key objectives is to harness the potential and economic benefits of TCAM in Nigeria.

The country also has its first Publication Edition of Nigerian Herbal Pharmacopeia, NHP (2008), currently in review for 2nd Edition. The NHP is a compendium of medicinal plants used for the safe treatment and management of various diseases.

Its cooperation with the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), Raw Materials Research and Development Agency, (NAFDAC), and NIPRD to develop, produce, regulate and commercialize herbal medicines, as well as documentation of Medicinal Plants in the six geo-political zones in Nigeria.

Its Collaboration with the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) in the cultivation and conservation of medicinal plants with over 300 species in each State of the Country.

It has also strengthened collaboration with National and regional bodies such as the West African Health Organization (WAHO), WHO and other relevant Stakeholders, in areas of cultivation, preservation and conservation of Medicinal Plants.

TCAM organised training workshops for Traditional Medicine Practitioners (TMPs) on Good Agricultural Practices, with a focus on medicinal plant cultivation and conservation in Nigeria.

Its developed a curriculum for training Herbal Medical Practitioners in Medical Schools through the establishment of a Ministerial Committee on Herbal, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM).

TCAM has also established a standing Committee for screening of herbal medicines, developed by Traditional Medicine Practitioners (TMPs) in the management of COVID-19 in Nigeria

The Minister of State said that the key objective of the Conference was to promote the cultivation and utilization of Medicinal Plants as a potential source of raw materials for the Pharmaceutical, Food and Cosmetic industries.

He said this was to create a short, medium and long-term value chain and attract agricultural business loans and Bank of Industry (BOI) Manufacturing loans to boost economic development in the country.

Mamora said it was also important to note that Nigeria and other African Countries currently benefit minimally from the global herbal medicine market, projected at 7 trillion USD by 2050; and is currently dominated by China, India, US, Germany and Thailand.

“Significantly, the cultivation of medicinal plants and commercialization of herbal medicines will attract huge economic benefits to Nigeria, especially in the following areas: increase foreign exchange earnings and wealth creation, alleviate poverty through the creation of job opportunities in areas of cultivation and conservation of Medicinal Plants in Nigeria.

“ Assuredly, the FMoH is committed to developing and promoting Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Nigeria and is currently taking these pragmatic steps as follows;

“Initiated sensitization programmes and activities to promote cultivation, commercialization and use of indigenous Medicinal Plants in Nigeria;
Facilitated the passage of the TCAM Council Bill into Law, to effectively coordinate and regulate TCAM practice in the Country.

“Proposed a State-of-Art TCAM Hospital in Nigeria. Inaugurated an Expert Committee that is currently working out modalities for the take-off of TCAM Institute for the training of TCAM Practitioners in Nigeria,” he explained.

Prof. MacDonald Idu, a professor of Phytomedicine from the University of Benin, who gave the Keynote address at the conference, said if properly harnessed, the value of traditional medicinal plants in Nigeria would hit N1 trillion by 2025.
He put the current value at a conservative estimate of N200 billion, regretting that not much attention has been paid to harnessing the sector.

“We talked about $200 billion. It is conservative. I’m serious. Other forms of literature, that I have also read are going to hit about 1 trillion by 2025. I know what that means. That’s a lot of money,” he said.

“Nigeria I’m sorry, we don’t walk the talk. We talk a lot, but we don’t walk the talk. So my point of interest is to drag the hearts of our people to realise that we should diversify our economy.

“We don’t have any reason to be poor. That’s the real truth. We don’t have any reason to report everything that we need to survive. It’s already here. Why do you have them here?

“So, I believe that if we’re able to set up that platform again, and then we’re able to organize ourselves and organize the traditional medicine practitioners and producers, we should be able to raise enough money for this country to move forward. That’s my worry actually,” Prof. Idu added.

Earlier the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, regretted the low level of utilisation of the over 10,000 species of medicinal plants in the country despite its huge need for the production of drugs, cosmetics and other essential products.

Buhari expressed the present administration’s commitment to boosting the commercial cultivation of such plants for health, economic and social benefits as well as for wealth and job creation for the teeming youths of the country.

It would be recalled that the Conference is expected to bring Experts and all Stakeholders in various fields of TCAM to discuss, sensitize and advocate the importance of indigenous Nigerian Medicinal Plants and the role of TCAM as a system of healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

The outcome of this Conference would boast commercial cultivation of Medicinal Plants as a source of raw materials and finished products for the Pharmaceutical, Food and Cosmetic industries.

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