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NAFDAC urges more funding into herbal medicine research

Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has called for more funding into research and development of herbal medicines to support universal health coverage in the country. Adeyeye made the call at the Inaugural Symposium and Launching of the Africa Centre of Excellence for Drug Research, Herbal Medicine Development and Regulatory Science (ACEDHARS), University of Lagos.

The theme of the event was “Drug Development from African Medicinal Plants: Opportunities, Challenges and Regulatory Approach.” The D-G who delivered the keynote speech at the event said investment in herbal medicine research and development would positively impact the economy of the pharmaceutical and traditional medicine industry.
 
She said herbal medicines are very important to healthcare delivery and can contribute significantly to universal health coverage in our country. Despite the widespread use, traditional medicines have not yet been integrated into the national healthcare system of many developing countries including Nigeria. The increasing use of herbal medicine despite general lack of research on some of these products calls for concern. Investment in herbal medicine research and development is needed from all stakeholders including the government, so we can make better use of and benefit from whatever God has given to us.

According to her, ACEDHARS is very important to Nigeria because of the focus which is the development of herbal medicine for the use of the people. “This centre will function to ensure that adequate research is conducted and clinical trials are done on herbal products before usage. As it were, some herbal medicines get to the market without adequate research and clinical trials to confirm their safety and efficacy, Adeyeye observed. 

She advised herbal practitioners to take advantage of the centre to increase their knowledge in the practice. “Herbal practitioners must have continued education even if they had some before, and for those that don’t have, this centre will be of immense benefit to enable them expand their horizon. They can take short courses and if they are not well schooled, they can have somebody in their organization that can attend to them”, she said.

Speaking earlier, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, represented by Prof. Obinna Chukwu, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Management Services, said that there was need to tap into the indigenous knowledge of herbal practitioners. Ogundipe described the symposium as timely in examining the challenges, opportunities as well as the regulatory approach for drug development for Africa medicinal plants. 

“We must appreciate the fact that the herbal medicines we have are quite efficacious and there is the need for us to tap into the indigenous knowledge. Some herbal medicines are quite useful in addressing a number of ailments but the problem is that some of these medicines had been seen as a cure for all ailments which the Yoruba call gbogbo nise. The issue of quality control, proper identification of medicinal plants, standardization of active ingredients and chemical compound in herbal medicine will be addressed. We are also looking forward to a period where modern technology will be applied in herbal medicine research”, he said. 

Speaking also, Omobolanle Ade-Ademilua, Director/Centre Leader, said ACEDHARS, which is a World Bank approved centre of excellence, is established to train skilled manpower. Ade-Ademilua said the training includes quality assurance, standardization of dosages, reproducibility of herbal preparations and safety monitoring of drugs in West and Central African regions.

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