Get rid of unregulated herbal medicines


Just before the end of 2021, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, warned the entire nation of the danger of patronizing hawkers herbal concoctions.

Adeyeye’s immediate concern was that such concoctions, often presented to gullible and unsuspecting buyers as genuine and possessing perfect medicinal properties, would end up posing a serious threat to individual and public health.

According to DG NAFDAC, the patronage of herbal medicines, especially in liquid form, could lead to very serious health complications. These drugs are not only produced without strictly adhering to modern storage standards, but also lack evidence that they have passed the agency’s safety and efficacy tests.

Liquid herbal concoctions, she pointed out, begin to grow harmful bacteria after four or five days. At this stage, they become toxic and can lead to the death of the user.

The DG also warned against the use of sexual enhancement drugs, most of which come in herbal form, due to the danger they pose to many unsuspecting users.

Professor Adeyeye has done well to remind Nigerians of the need to exercise caution and restraint when it comes to choosing between orthodox and herbal medicines. We believe that in bringing up the subject, especially at a time when the country’s health care system has almost irretrievably collapsed, his intention is neither to discredit herbal medicine nor to discourage people from using it, but to draw attention to the inherent danger in the consumption of untested and uncertified herbal medicines.

According to the World Health Organization, herbal medicine is still a source of primary health care for approximately 80% of people living in developing countries. Since Nigeria is one such country, it means that in the absence of a properly organized and well-funded health care system that can effectively meet the health needs of the people, the majority of its population has no choice but to depend on herbal medicine. Medication.

Here in Nigeria, as in most other third world countries, herbal medicine comes in different forms: roots, stems, leaves and bark of trees, which are boiled, ground into powder or soaked in water, alcohol or carbonated drinks. They are used for different reasons and, of course, mainly by those who cannot afford any other form of health care.

Just as Adeyeye has hinted, it’s no secret that not all herbal medicines currently on the market are NAFDAC approved and therefore unlikely to be safe for use. human consumption. These drugs are generally advertised as capable of curing more than one disease at a time, including malaria, stomach ailments, rheumatism, arthritis, back pain and loss, cholera, ulcers, skin diseases, fibroids and even COVID-19. This is where the danger lies.

It’s also not uncommon to find sex-enhancing drugs sold freely as alcoholic beverages on the streets, around car parks, and in beer halls. Unfortunately, a survey has shown that many men have suffered heart attacks and died or developed complicated conditions from using drugs.

The fact that there is currently a proliferation of this class of drugs and that it may possibly be linked to the resurgence of cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence, which have long-term and irreparable consequences for the victim and society in general, raises concerns. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the federal government to do everything in its power to counter this ugly trend.

We also believe that Nigeria’s conventional health care system is still grossly underfunded and inaccessible to many people. Public hospitals are sometimes out of service for long periods, not because of endless clashes between the government and medical personnel demanding better conditions of service. This factor and the struggling economy, which has made the cost of health services far beyond the reach of the average Nigerian, have contributed significantly to the growing demand for herbal medicines.

Although the CEO of NAFDAC promised that the agency would continue to use a multi-faceted approach, including strengthening the pharmaceutical industries, to ensure that the average Nigerian is protected from counterfeit and substandard medicines, we urge the agency to do more, beyond mere rhetoric, to ensure strict regulation of herbal medicines in the country. This is the only way to guarantee the safety of lives.


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