NAFDAC calls for more funding for herbal medicine research

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The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, has called for more funding for research and development of medicinal plants to support health coverage universal in Nigeria.

Adeyeye made the call at the inaugural symposium and launch of the African Center of Excellence for Drug Research, Herbal Medicine Development and Regulatory Science (ACEDHARS), University of Lagos.

The theme of the event is “Drug Development from African Medicinal Plants: Opportunities, Challenges and Regulatory Approach”.

Adeyeye, who delivered the keynote address at the event, said investing in herbal medicine research and development would have a positive impact on the economy of the pharmaceutical traditional medicine industry.

She said, “Herbal medicines are very important for health care delivery and can contribute significantly to universal health coverage in our country.

“Despite their widespread use, traditional medicines have yet to be integrated into the national health system of many developing countries, including Nigeria.

“The growing use of herbal medicine despite the general lack of research on some of these products is concerning.

“Investment in research and development in herbal medicine is needed from all stakeholders, including government, so that we can benefit from all that God has given us for free.

According to her, ACEDHARS is very important to Nigeria because of its focus on developing herbal medicine for use by the people.

“This center will work to ensure that adequate research is carried out and clinical trials are carried out on herbal products before they are used.

“So to speak, some herbal medicines come to market without adequate research and clinical trials to confirm their safety and effectiveness.

Adeyeye advised herbalists to take advantage of the center to deepen their knowledge in the practice.

“Herbalists must have continuous training, even if they have already done it and for those who do not, this center will be of immense benefit to them in broadening their horizons.

“They can take short courses and if they’re not well educated, they can have someone in their organization who can attend,” she said.

Earlier, University of Lagos Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, represented by Prof. Obinna Chukwu, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Management Services, said there is a need to tap into the indigenous knowledge of herbalists .

Ogundipe described the symposium as timely to examine the challenges, opportunities as well as the regulatory approach for drug development for African herbal medicines.

“We have to appreciate that the herbal medicines we have are quite effective and we have to tap into indigenous knowledge.

“Some herbal medicines are very useful in treating a number of ailments, but the problem is that some of these medicines have been considered a cure for all ailments which the Yoruba call ‘gbogbo nise’.

“The issue of quality control, correct identification of medicinal plants, standardization of active principles and chemical compounds in herbal medicine will be addressed.

“We also look forward to a time when modern technology will be applied to herbal medicine research,” he said.

Also speaking, Omobolanle Ade-Ademilua, Director/Head of Center said that ACEDHARS, which is a World Bank approved Center of Excellence, was established to train a skilled workforce.

Ade-Ademilua said the training includes quality assurance, standardization of dosages, reproducibility of herbal preparations and drug safety monitoring in West and Central Africa regions.

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