Herbal medicines production in Nigeria is about to receive a boost with the commissioning of the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) Research Laboratory Complex and the attainment of ISO Certification by the agency on Monday. This will facilitate global best practices among Nigerian Traditional Medicine Practitioners (TMPs) as well as enhance empirical data generation for academic and industrial research in the field of natural medicine, says Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora.
Mamora, who was the Chairman of the occasion, disclosed that the laboratory has been designed with state- of-the-art equipment to support research and development, improve the export potential of drug raw materials, active pharmaceutical ingredients, herbal medicines and also support the general quality health infrastructures of Nigeria.
He recalled how the NNMDA Laboratory Project commenced in 2017, with the aim of resolving the barrage of health challenges bedevilling most nations of the world including Nigeria, and expressed satisfaction with the completion of the laboratory with ISO17025-2017 Certification on critical foods and drugs’ product line qualification.
The minister, who recently joined the league of septuagenarians, mentioned other critical purposes the research lab will serve including “development of ethno medicines/herbal medicines and products; assurance of the quality and standardisation of developed herbal medicines and products.
“Generation of the needed scientific data to show the potentials of every developed herbal medicines/products brought to the laboratory for evaluation; a platform for collaborative research from different institutions interested in ethnomedicine; and a place for the evaluation of herbal medicines/products imported into the country”.
He attributed the construction of the lab as one of the blessings bestowed on the nation by COVID-19, as challenges encountered during the pandemic were pointers to the development of research laboratories in the country. Identifying diagnosis as a major problem during the pandemic, he however noted that it has been surmounted with several molecular laboratories presently established in the country.
COVID-19 pandemic was a blessing in disguise, he said, because from four molecular laboratories before COVID-19, “as of today, Nigeria now has over 120 new laboratories and that’s one of the positive things that came out of COVID-19 pandemic”.
Also speaking at the event, Chairman, Governing Board, NNMDA, Pharm. (Hon.) Victor Terah Patrick, corroborated the views of Dr Mamora on the need to harness indigenous medicines to the benefits of Nigerians. He urged the staff of the agency on adequate maintenance of the facility for sustainability and efficiency.
He said: “We must leverage global recognition and return to the use of natural medicine. Let us harness its use to prevent, manage and treat diseases and enhance health/wellness thus promoting the activities of the agency as well as generate interest and stimulate investment in natural/traditional medicine, which is our pride and heritage.
“I call on the entire staff of the agency to ensure that this General Laboratory Complex is well maintained, and deployed to serve the interest of the public. I believe this complex will improve the agency’s internally generated revenue and enhance its visibility”.
He also commended the Director General of the agency, Pharm. Sam Etatuvie, for his visionary efforts in repositioning the agency on the cutting edge of natural medicine frontiers and enhancing global best practices in the field of natural medicine.
Appreciating all guests at the epoch-making event, the NNMDA boss, expressed his profound delight in seeing his dream for the institution come true with the commissioning of the research laboratory. With the ISO 17025-2017 Certification, he stated that natural medicine practice in the country can now compete favourably with those in the global landscape.
The DG has also sent a patronage invitation to all practitioners in Nigeria to seize the opportunity of a standardised research laboratory in refining their local products to be viable both in local and internationally markets.
“The vision of this laboratory has been on my mind since 2017, so I thank God for bringing it to fruition today. The attainment of ISO Certification is a big leap for natural medicine development agency in the country. I know many labs in our country, but to successfully complete and commission such a standardised laboratory is not a common feat. I think it is a very big achievement for the agency.
“We want to encourage all natural medicine producers, all pharma manufacturers, to start to patronise the lab. We have well-trained consultants working in the lab. So you can conduct any type of laboratory test to provide data for the safety or efficacy of whatever medical or traditional therapy, useful for our people.
“Like the minister said, this is a very virgin land that this country must pay attention to. A lot of research has been done from the universities to other research institutes, but we need verification. If you claim that this is possible, we need a laboratory to gather the data that will convince the clinicians to be able to say yes, I’m confident that this product found the results the manufacturer claims it has got”, he enthused.
Affirming the potency of herbal medicines in treating chronic conditions, the Managing Director, Alpha Pharmacy and Stores, Pharm. (Sir) Ike Onyechi, narrated how he was able to use personally formulated herbal preparation to successfully treat his enlarged prostate to the amazement of his medical doctor, who had earlier diagnosed him of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH).