Nigeria has had a long history of traditional knowledge-based on plant remedies. Passed down through generations of traditional health practitioners (THPs), it is estimated that such knowledge has served 80 per cent of the population’s healthcare needs, highlighting the important role that it has played in the nation’s healthcare history.
However, the advent of Western medical care has relegated this vital industry to the background, despite the potential it has to offer to augment services of the medical health care sector.
Speaking during his familiarisation tour of the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) in Lagos, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Sen. Adeleke Mamora posited that the development of traditional medicine is key to affordable drugs in the country.
The minister emphasised that the essence of the development of traditional medicine is to avail alternative, safe and affordable drugs to Nigerians for the various health challenges in the country.
He noted that traditional medicine, though unrefined, addressed the issue of health problems of our forefathers adding that establishment of a medical plant market where original plants and seeds can be made available for professionals to process and produce drugs will effectively support our quest for the provision of adequate drugs in our health care centres in the country.
Adeleke while calling on the agency to be more committed to achieving health for all through traditional and alternative medicine, charged it to protect the intellectual property of the scientists to avoid being pirated by some people.
The minister commended the agency on its achievement of construction of office blocks, establishment of various laboratories and experimental pesticide plant farms in the six geopolitical zones of the country, despite a paucity of funds. Also, he assured that the Federal Government will ensure improvement in the funding of the agency.
He charged the agency not to depend on government funding alone; but rather, collaborate with other organisations and philanthropists as well as commercialise its products for further internally generated revenue capable of sustaining its funding and self-reliance.
Adeleke identified that without unity of purpose prevailing in the organisation, the agency could not have achieved the giant strides and then, enjoined the management and the staff to continue working as a team, to fulfil the desired goal and the progress of the nation.
Speaking earlier, the director-general, NNMDA, Dr. Samuel Etatuvie said that the agency has made remarkable strides in the areas of research and promotion of cultivation of medicinal aromatic and raw materials amongst others.
He further said that NNMDA has produced standard, affordable and safe medicines used in treating hypertension, glaucoma and livestock tick disease and many others through these discoveries have been sent to NAFDAC for proper processing necessary for final production, packaging and consumption.
Etatuvie lamented that poor funding has retarded the progress of processing strategic equipment, proper training and retraining of officers and expansion of research and Innovation (R&I) and appealed to the minister to intervene in improving the funding of the agency.
In a related development, Sen. Mamora averred that another agency under the ministry, the Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (NISLT) will boost the quest for economic diversification of the present administration.
He made this assertion when he paid a one-day working visit to the NISLT office in Ibadan, even as he stressed that the nation cannot make any meaningful economic progress without investing in the science laboratory technology sector which is a major source of innovation increase in revenue generation, job creation and self-reliance.
Adeleke said that the Institute has performed well despite financial constraint and other challenges militating against the desired progress of the organization, stating that government will improve the fund allocation of the Institute but charged it to prioritize its projects and programmes to save funds for implementation of the most important projects.
The minister was given the honorary award of the ‘Fellow of the Institute’ by the organisation.
Earlier, the director-general of NISLT, Mr. Yemi Gbadegesin said that the institute has various challenges, particularly poor funding.
In a statement by the ministry’s deputy director, press and public relations, Atuora Obed, Gbadegesin stressed that inadequate funding has jeopardised NISLT’s prompt desire to achieve its mandate and then called on the minister to assist in improving the budgetary allocation to the institute by the Federal Government.