FG Restates Commitment To TMPs 

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The Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Health, Hon. Joseph Ekumankama.
The Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Health, Hon. Joseph Ekumankama.

The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has restated the Federal Government’s commitment to traditional medicine practitioners (TMPs) in the country, seeing as traditional medicine plays a major role in people’s life and nation development but its innovation is still low or remains individual-based. 

The Minister of State for Health, Hon. Joseph Ekumankama said this during an event to commemorate the 2022 African Traditional Medicine Day themed “Two Decades of African Traditional Medicine Day: Progress Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa” yesterday (August 31, 2022) in Abuja. 

Ekumankama said that the theme for this year’s celebration necessitates taking stock of achievements in the sector since the inception of the annual remembrance of ATM Day, from 2001to 2020 and the impact on the healthcare delivery system. 

“Indeed, Nigeria and other African countries have delivered on key policies and programmes aimed at promoting and developing various forms of TCAM practices and products within the region,” he said. 

The minister said that the progress recorded so far was critical to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), considering that about 80 per cent of the population, especially those residing in rural communities; patronize TCAM services as their main source of health care.  

He said that the availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability of TCAM make it popular among communities. 

“Achieving UHC requires multiple approaches which include the primary health care approach and life course approach. Both are critical. 

“A primary health care approach focuses on organising and strengthening the health system so that people can access services for their health and well-being based on their needs and preferences, at the earliest, and in their everyday environments,” he said. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, Dr. Francis Ukwuije said that Nigeria is one of the African countries that has reported improvement in the availability, affordability, accessibility and safety of traditional medicine practices.  

The health economist said that the country’s products and is involved in the large-scale cultivation of medicinal plants and producing traditional medicine locally in the progress report on the implementation of traditional medicine strategy in Africa. 

“There were submissions from Nigeria to the regional expert committee for products developed as therapeutics for COVID-19, the submissions are still under review,” he said. 

Ukwuije called on governments to continue to strengthen collaboration between science, technology and innovation institutions such as NIPRD, NIMR, as well as traditional health practitioners and the private sector, to fast-track research and development and local manufacturing of traditional medicine-based therapeutics for the health and well-being of Africa’s people. 

He, however, said that the WHO would continue to provide technical assistance to Nigeria to ensure local manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and traditional medicine-based therapeutics.  

Speaking on the role of TM in COVID-19, director and head of Department Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines (TCAM), Pharm Zainab Sharif, said that the outbreak of COVID-19 has called for the need to exploit the African treasures by looking inward for local solutions for the management of COVID-19. 

Sharif said that the pandemic has harnessed the awareness of the values of TM, investing in research to produce home-grown solutions and the wellbeing of the continent. 

“TMPs submissions of 59 herbal products for the management of COVID-19-related symptoms have led to the listing of some herbal products. Pharmaceutical companies in Western countries are looking forward to Africa for APIs. 

“COVID-19 herbal medicines such as Madagascan COVID-19 herbal mixture has been reportedly used in the management of patients with COVID-19-related symptoms and is currently under phase 3 clinical trial.  

“Trials in 12 member states, including South Africa, Nigeria and Congo are currently ongoing. TMPs have played a significant role in prevention measures in most communities in Africa,” she added.

Racheal Abujah
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