By SOLA OGUNDIPE
Nigeria and other African countries have been urged to take advantage of the huge revenue earning potential in herbal medicine, and stem the continuous tide of loss of funds arising from this complacency towards the development of herbal medicine on the continent.
Africa Regional Coordinator and CEO, Revelation International Magazine, Mr Paul Bassey, who made the assertion, observed that Africa must realise that the use of herbs which forms the larger medicinal substance of the conventional drugs, is key to the continent’s health revolution in 20:2020.
Bassey, who spoke at the 1st International media conference on herbal medicine in Africa and 2011 merit award, observed that Nigeria in particular and Africa in general need to formulate, policies that will guarantee the rapid development of traditional medicine.
He said: “Traditional medical practitioners need to be recognised by government and be given the rightful place in the provision of primary healthcare”. Worldwide, herbal medicine has come to the front burner due to its capacity to generate huge revenue.
Data from the World Health Organisation shows that annual revenues in Western Europe totalled US$ 5 billion in 2003-2004, in China, sales of herbal products totalled US$ 14 billion in 2005, while herbal medicine revenue in Brazil was US$ 160 million in 2007.
Describing herbs as one of the many wonders of nature, Bassey noted that contrary to widespread belief that use of herbs for medicinal purposes is evil, herbs and plants are one of nature’s healing and curative measures.
“Traditional or herbal medicine is the sum total of knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences that are indigenous to different cultures and that are used to maintain health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses.”
In support, one of the merit award recipients, Dr. Bamidele Ogaga decried the non-recognition and promotion of African medicine in the country by the governemnt.
Receiving the award, Ogaga urged the nation to return herbal medicine to its lost glory in the interest of national health and prosperity. Another award recipient, Dr. Kwaku Frimpong, also listed the relevance of herbal medicine in overall national and global health.