The Minister of State for Health, Adeleke Mamora, has called for concerted efforts to remove all barriers hindering the growth of traditional medicine in Nigeria and Africa, in general.
Mamora said traditional medicine is part and parcel of the culture of Africa and must be encouraged to thrive, barring all barriers on its path.
Speaking at an event organised by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development in Nigeria (NIPRD) to seek ways of improving the traditional medicine industry in Africa, the minister said the federal government has commenced moves to ensure proper labelling and documentation of traditional medicines.
“Barriers in terms of recognition, labelling, not being open. One of the things that we are doing is to remove the veil and make it open and transparent and have documentation and ensure that we removed the fear of taking away the intellectual property rights of the traditional medicine practitioners,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of NIPRD, Dr Obi Adigwe, said the health agency has commenced a partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa to grow the traditional medicine industry and ensure medicine security in Africa.
He said there are plans to facilitate research and development, human capital development and community engagement, all in the context of the Traditional Medicine Value Chain.
The move is also expected to produce various socio-economic benefits including business and investment opportunities, jobs and income generation opportunities for stakeholders involved in the African Traditional Medicine Pharmaceutical Value Chain, especially traditional health practitioners.
Dr. Adigwe insisted that Africans must take responsibility for providing access to safe, affordable life-saving medicines for the people of the region.
“Medicine security that we conceptualised a decade ago was a concept that argued that unless we as Africans begin to determine how our medicines are developed, produced and how our medicines are distributed, we will never be in a position to ensure sustainable access to safe, affordable life-saving medicines to our people.
“Embedded in the medicine security concept are social-economic indicators that align with local manufacturing and local development of these resources.
Dr. Adigwe insisted that “as a people, we must not abdicate the responsibility of providing healthcare for our people to others outside the continent.
“We must not abdicate the responsibility for developing socio-economic programmes that will ensure that our youth, women have jobs, adequately employed, they no longer seek pastures whether through legal or illegal immigration elsewhere.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Kwazulu Natal, and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize on his part explained that solutions for African healthcare challenges should be based on the commitment of African people to promote, preserve and protect their local knowledge systems.