The federal government recently announced plans to introduce Herbal Medicine as a course of study in Nigerian universities. Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, made the announcement at the 3rd Annual Guest Lecture of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, held in Abuja on 4 April.
The health minister disclosed that a committee had submitted the course curriculum, which would soon be presented to the National Council on Health (NCH), adding that, once approved, candidates for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination could begin applying for the course from next year.
In this edition of Pharmanews, our reporter, Oladejo Adebayo, went out to get peoples’ opinions on the issue. Their views are presented below:
FG never ceases to amaze me
Sometimes when I read about the policies or decisions of this present government on issues that concern the citizenry, I am surprised because it is either they are off-track or they are pointless.
Imagine in a country where lecturers’ strike has become the order of the day, the federal government still wants to introduce more courses.Where are the facilities to take care of the courses and where is the political will on the part of the government to pump in more funds to upgrade our universities and motivate the lecturers who will do the work?
We shouldn’t deceive ourselves – our public officials are all comedians. I wonder how funny it would sound when you ask an undergraduate what course he is studying and he says it’s Herbal Medicine.
However, looking at it from another perspective, it may not really be a bad idea because it could help strengthen the status of herbal medicine in comparison with orthodox medicine. It is a known fact that about 70 percent of Nigerians use herbs or traditional medicines to treat their illnesses.Having Herbal Medicine as a course in the university will help the government properly regulate the usage of herbal drugs. It will also allow for wider consultation and research on various means of treating sicknesses in a traditional way.
So, while I would not disagree that the plan is a good one, I would still repeat that the government lacks the will to properly implement it and make it beneficial to the general populace.
Ayobo Ipaja, Lagos
It is a welcome development
This is the best opportunity to put herbal medicine in its rightful place. Before the advent of orthodox medicine, we Africans had survived on herbal medicines for years and after the advent of orthodox medicine, majority of people, especially the masses, still survive on herbal drugs.So with this development, we are on the verge of taking the whole world by storm in the aspect of provision of efficacious medicine with little or no side effects.
Herbal medicines, as far as I am concerned, have more efficacy and potency than the orthodox drugs and the earlier we realise this, the better for us.Sothe move is a step in the right direction. But, it is one thing to take a decision and another to make it work.The onus is now on the federal government to ensure the plan isproperly implemented. Our government is known for insincerity when it comes to issues of this nature because there is no way some people’s interests will not be affected; and once this happens, the whole thing becomes history. So, my sincere appeal goes to the stakeholders in the process to not only ensure that the course is approved, but that it is properly implemented.
Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
FG is getting it right this time
This is the best decision taken so far by the federal government and I dare say that, if this is properly implemented, the whole of Africa and the world at large would soon be looking in our direction for assistance when it comes to healthcare provision.
The introduction of Herbal Medicine into the curriculum of our Universities is another dimension to giving credence to our indigenous discoveries in the area of drug making and this will go a long way in projecting our image positively to the world.For instance, during the administration of Chief OlusegunObasanjo, Dr Jeremiah Abalaka, an immunologist and proprietor of Medicrest Specialist Hospital in Abuja, claimed that he had found a cure to HIV/AIDS; but because our system does not give credibility to anything African, the claim was dismissed and all the efforts of the respected doctor became fruitless.
Imagine what the likes of Dr Akintunde Ayeni of YEM-KEM International, Rev Fr Adodo of Pax Herbal Diagnostic Centre and others are doing through herbal medication.You will agree with me that herbal medicine has come to stay.
Ibafo, Ogun State
Kudos to the FG
I have always wondered why we find it difficult to appreciate what God has given us rather than wasting money and time on what is not ours. I have said it times without number that orthodox medicine is not the best solution to our healthcare needs and I am happy now that the federal government itself has recognised.
As Africans, God has blessed us with various things that we need to take care of our health. In the days of our forefathers, there were no orthodox medicines and they lived fine and even now that we have the orthodox medicines, most of the ingredients that used to make them are obtained from the herbs.So what other proof do we need that we need to embrace our local herbs?
Also, apart from the fact that this giant step by the federal government will broaden the scope of knowledge of our local drugs manufacturers, it will also create employment opportunities for our teeming unemployed youths and as well reduce the rate at which people die of curable diseases.
I want to therefore urge the federal government to ensure that the course is approved and rightly implemented.
Studying of natural medicine is most needed because, everything started naturally. From Adam till date, we can’t do without herbs. Our foods, clothing, shelters, health from natural oxygen (etc). Why then we are keeping on discussions without action on what is most needed.
Every culture has its own way of responding to the conditions of its context. Many people often forget that the socalled biomedical model of healthcare delivery is also a cultural product of the Western middle-class values and beliefs. It is sickening to hear young Nigerians always discussing from the perspectives of their deficit mood. They appreciate nothing from their environment and foreigners cart away the God given resources while we dwell on the negative. There is no perfect system and all that glitters in the West is not gold. The forest with its variety of plants many indigenous and not found somewhere else are resources which we should exploit for our own good. Government can never fully fund everything. A lot of the discoveries of the West we rely on were privately funded. Nigerians should be begin to think of public good and not always thinking that government must put money before we can do anything. Good research proposals on herbal or traditional medicines can be funded by oil and mobile phone companies that simply take money away from Nigeria. Young Nigerian undergraduates in Pharmacy and health sciences should take it upon themselves together with their lecturers to seek fund for worthwhile research. The NUC manages research fund for universities which are not being accessed. Discussion on herbal medicine and research at university level should not be reduced to discussion in which young people who are to be intelligent enough comment as if like illiterate. I ask the first comentator what is wrong with a degree in herbal medicine?