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WHO To Support Nigeria Goals Of Achieving Self-sufficiency In Local Production Of Pharmaceuticals

The World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo said the UN agency remains committed to continue to support the Government of Nigeria in its goal of achieving self-sufficiency in the local production of pharmaceuticals (including Vaccines), traditional medicine and researches.

He made this known at a press conference to commemorate African Traditional Medicine Day on Monday in Abuja.

Mulombo who was represented at the occasion by Dr. Kofi Boateng, EPI Focal Point , Universal Health Coverage(UHC) added that, the listing of 14 herbal medicinal products by NAFDAC against COVID-19 and ongoing clinical trials on them, is in line with the Regional Expert Committee on COVID-19 aim of elevating the standards of clinical trials of traditional medicine for COVID-19.

He further stated that, the ongoing research(s) in the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research & Development and other higher institutions, highlights the interest of the Government of Nigeria to develop and promote African Traditional Medicines

According to him; “The above are in line with the theme of this year commemoration; The potential contribution of Traditional Medicine to COVID-19 Response  

“Africa has a long history of traditional medicine and practitioners that play an important role in providing care to populations over the centuries. The African Heads of State in 2001, declared traditional medicine research a priority and subsequently designated the next 10 years as decade of African Traditional Medicine which was extended to the year 2020.

“For the past 20 years, countries in the WHO African Regional Office have marked the African Traditional Medicine Day on 31st of August each year. WHO advocate for strengthening the linkage between traditional medicine and institutionalized care in line with the WHO strategy.

“We are still battling the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO recognizes that traditional, complementary and alternative medicine has many benefits when properly harnessed with. Therefore, researches into our traditional medicines is an effort in the right direction

“WHO Nigeria has taking it up to support the ministry and in particular the department of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, Complimentary in the review of the Traditional Medicines Policy 2007, review of the Nigeria Pharmacopoeia 2008 and the development of a 5-year strategic plan to implement the new policy and the revised pharmacopoeia”, he said .

He said, WHO will continue to provide technical assistance to the TCAM department, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NPRD) and NAFDAC in improving the quality of medicinal products and ensure the listing of these products in the National Essential Medicines List.

Also, the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnibe Mamora on Monday said that the Federal government is currently working towards the review of the Nigeria Herbal Pharmacopoeia and the Traditional Medicine Policy. 

He added that, the efforts of government in this regard have greatly minimized the negative consequences of the disease on the health and economy of Nigerians.

All these measures are aimed at strengthening our resources for delivery of quality, efficacious and safe traditional medicine products.

He said; “We also have in place an expert committee for the setting up of Traditional, Complementary & Alternative Medicine Institute to serve for the training of professionals in this sector.

“The series of events in the world during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic calls for the need to look inwards and consider local production of medicines as necessary for national security and attainment of Universal Health Coverage. 

“The Federal Ministry of Health on its efforts for local content tasked the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research & Development (NIPRD) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC) to scale up their activities towards the search for a local solution to the pandemic.

“The Federal Ministry of Health is working in collaboration with international organizations and relevant MDA’s to ensure the discovery of effective remedies against COVID-19 and other diseases from the rich and extensive flora of the country”, he said. 

In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Alh Mahmud Mamma said that Nigeria is blessed with about 8,000 medicinal plants yet to be utilized in the area of research, development and value addition.

He added that, it is estimated that about 80% of the population that live in the rural communities utilize traditional medicine. 

He said that, traditional medicine practice preceded the use of conventional medicine in all parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive. 

He added, “There is therefore the need to look in wards to research and develop our medicinal plants for the benefit of all. The Federal Ministry of Health has intervened in several ways in order to develop, promote and institutionalize Traditional Medicine.

“We are also working on the establishment of a wellbeing Centre in the Ministry to serve the public. 

The economic benefit of traditional medicine is the provision of jobs to our unemployed youths in the area of conservation, cultivation and harvesting of medicinal plants. This will help reduce youth restiveness. 

The activities for this event include exhibition and symposium”, he added. 

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