10,000 Trado-Medicinal Species Potentials For Nigeria’s Devt – Mamora 

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The Minister of State for Health, Sen. Adeleke Mamora.
The Minister of State for Health, Sen. Adeleke Mamora.

The Minister of State for Health, Sen. Adeleke Mamora, has said Nigeria is endowed with over 10,000 species of medicinal plants, with good arable land and favourable climatic conditions for harnessing the potential of these plants for health, social, economic and national development.

Mamora revealed this over the weekend at the Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) conference organised by her office in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) refers to a ‘medicinal plant’ as ‘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.

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

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

The country has its first edition of the ‘Nigerian Herbal Pharmacopeia (NHP)’, 2008 and currently reviewing it for a second edition. The NHP is a compendium of medicinal plants used for the safe treatment and management of various diseases.

It has cooperated with the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), Raw Materials Research and Development Agency, NAFDAC and NIPRD to develop, produce, regulate and commercialise herbal medicines, as well as documentation of medicinal plants in the six geo-political zones in Nigeria.

Also, the TCAM has collaborated 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 Organisation (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.

It’s 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).

The TCAM has established a standing committee for screening of herbal medicines, developed by traditional medicine practitioners (TMPs) in the management of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Mamora said that the key objective of the conference was to promote the cultivation and utilisation 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 USD7trillion by 2050 and is currently dominated by China, India, the US, Germany and Thailand. 

“Significantly, the cultivation of medicinal plants and commercialisation of herbal medicines will attract huge economic benefits to Nigeria, especially in increasing foreign exchange earnings and wealth creation, alleviate poverty through the creation of job opportunities through the 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 has initiated sensitisation programmes and activities to promote cultivation, commercialisation 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-the-art TCAM Hospital in Nigeria and inaugurated an expert committee currently working out modalities for the take-off of the TCAM Institute for the training of TCAM practitioners in Nigeria,” he explained. 

In his keynote address, a professor of phytomedicine from the University of Benin, Prof. MacDonald Idu, said if properly harnessed, the value of traditional medicinal plants in Nigeria would hit N1trillion 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 N1trillion by 2025. I know what that means. That’s a lot of money. Nigeria does not walk the talk. We talk a lot but 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 organise ourselves and organise 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,” Idu added.

Earlier the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, 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.

Recall that the conference is expected to bring experts and all stakeholders in various fields of TCAM to discuss, sensitise 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.

Racheal Abujah
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