How We Would Develop Nigeria’s Traditional Medicine For Local Use – FG

THE federal government has said it would partner with the World Health Organisation, WHO, West African Health Organisation, WAHO, embassies of China and India to develop Nigeria’s traditional medicine for local use and commercialization.

This was as the government assured that it will mobilise evidence-based actions in support of traditional medicine, which serves as an initial recourse for millions worldwide seeking to address their health and well-being needs.

Minister of State for Health and Social Development, Dr. Tunji Alausa, who said these at the 2023 African Traditional Medicine, ATM Day Celebration on Thursday in Abuja, said government would ensure that traditional healers have access to proper training, research, resources as well as allowing them to standardize their expertise while also aligning with international best practices.

Speaking through the ministry’s  Director of Human Resources, Malam Hassan Salau,at the event with the theme, “The Contribution of Traditional Medicine to Holistic Health and Well-being for All,” Alausa said the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu “seeks to bolster the economy by prioritizing Universal Health Coverage, UHC, which he noted, was aimed at adequately tackling Nigeria’s health challenges.

He said:“ The healthcare plan will also focus on encouraging and improving funding for local research on new drugs and vaccines. It is a well-established fact that many medicines have their origins in herbal medicine, which is a form of traditional medicine.”

“Our approach to optimizing’s the strengths of our traditional medicine will also focus on favourable policies, institutional and political support, our rich biodiversity, qualitative data, scientific research, and the use of innovation to optimise the contribution of traditional medicine to universal health coverage and sustainable development, and will also be guided by respect for our indigenous resources and intellectual property rights.

“During the COVID-19 period, several traditional medicine practitioners made claims on possible medicines for the management of the disease.”

“The Ministry received about 35 products from these practitioners, which were forwarded to NAFDAC for further analysis and possible listing. We can also recall that the Madagascar Organic COVID-19 cure originated from medicinal plants.”

“As we celebrate the strengths of traditional medicine, we must also strive to address the challenges that persist.”

“Integration and collaboration between modern medical practises and traditional medicine are essential.

“We must ensure that our traditional healers have access to proper training, research, and resources, allowing them to standardise their expertise while also aligning with international best practices.”

“This collaboration can lead to a healthcare system that is truly comprehensive and inclusive, benefiting all members of our society”.

The World Health Organisation,WHO Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo,who also spoke at the event, said this year’s theme, “The Contribution of Traditional Medicine to Holistic Health and Well-being for All,” echoes the resonance of the inaugural WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India, on August 17–18, 2023.

He said:“The global summit catalysed political commitment and evidence-based action on traditional medicine, which is the first port of call for millions of people worldwide to address their health needs.”

He explained in the past two decades, 31st of August had marked the celebration of African Traditional Medicine Day in the WHO African Region in recognition of the enduring significance of African traditional medicine and its integral role in enhancing health and well-being across the African continent.

According to him, throughout these years, member states have witnessed the flourishing of African Traditional Medicine Day as a dynamic platform for dialogue, exchange, and knowledge sharing.

He said:“It has united stakeholders—from traditional medicine practitioners to policymakers, from researchers to international partners—in a common pursuit of best practices, groundbreaking evidence, and innovative solutions that showcase the immense potential of traditional medicine in nurturing holistic health and well-being for all.”

He, therefore, called upon member states to scale up their efforts and further implement evidence-based Traditional Medicine (TM) approaches to achieve health-related Sustainable Development Goals and promote health and well-being for all at all ages.

He appealed to member states  to apply local knowledge, science, technology, and innovation to unlock the contribution of TM to advancing planetary health and people’s well-being across the life course through regional and culturally appropriate nutrition and lifestyles within sustainable environments.

He equally called on member states to establish a high-level consultative mechanism with Indigenous Knowledge Holders to guarantee their full participation and consultation in adopting and implementing relevant policies and actions associated with biodiversity management and Traditional Knowledge as well as facilitate effective integration of traditional medicine into national health systems, contributing to achieving universal health coverage and all health-related sustainable development goals.