Professor Maurice Iwu has said the challenge of herbal medicine in Nigeria is the lack of government support and Nigerians’ deposition to local products.
Professor Iwu, who is Chairman of Imo State Government-instituted COVID-19 Management Committee, however, noted that people will soon embrace the use of foods and herbs, as there was gradual realisation of the benefits.
He made the comments in an interview with Vanguard, noting that “Nigerian government, through National Agency for Food Administration and Control, NAFDAC, has registered several herbal medicines.
“There is even a Department of Traditional and Alternative Medicine at the Federal Ministry of Health. What is missing is its promotion and government’s genuine support.
“Herbal medicines are recognised by our system. The problem is Nigerians’ psychological disposition towards anything local.
“If somebody claims that he has a cure and produces his empirical evidence, you can only debunk it by superior argument or counter-evidence. An enclosure of the mind to anything we do not understand is unscientific.
“With the increasing realisation that nature is the most efficient healer and with fewer risks, more people will embrace the use of functional foods and herbs.”
Besides harping on the importance of herbal medicine, Iwu spoke on the challenges of pharmacognosy in the country, he said: “A typical pharmaceutical product consists of two main parts: chemical entity responsible for the therapeutic effect called the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient, API.
“The other is the essentially inert component that helps in holding the dosage form together and assists in its timely dissolution and absorption, known as the excipient. Production of each of these key components involves a complex manufacturing process.
“Our pharmaceutical companies are involved in the intricate process of combining the two parts into dosage formulations. Usually of world-class standards.
“But, unfortunately, we do not have any bulk chemical synthesis facility to manufacture API. And that is the problem. Fortunately, our organisation, Bioresources Development Group, has completed arrangements to introduce the first set of APIs from local sources— one from the fermentation of microorganism and the other an isolated molecule from a plant.”