In commemoration of the second decade of African Traditional Medicine Day, stakeholders in the field have proffered solutions on how best African countries can maximize the huge potentials of their traditional medicine endowments.
In an online webinar organised by the Model Herbal Clinic of the Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos, with the theme: “Antiviral Herbal Remedies: COVID -19 in Focus”, key speakers harped on the need for African governments to muster the political will to fund research and drug development in order to position herbal medicine practice (on the continent) for greater heights.
Guest speaker and Director of the Indigenous Knowledge-Based Technology and Innovation Unit of the Department of Science and Technology, South Africa, Dr Aunkh Chabalala observed that, of all the great herbal medicine endowments on the African continent, only about 20 per cent has been explored, adding that there is still so much work to be done in terms of research and drug development.
He said that of the 20 per cent explored, only 10 per cent has been used as medicines.
On his own part, Professor of Virology, Sunday Omilabu, of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, called on government to take the bull by the horn by creating the enabling environments for researchers and scientists in the African traditional medicine field to be in positions of advantage in the fight against viral infections.
In a presentation titled “Viral Infections: COVID-19 and the Way Forward”, he warned that the emergence and re-emergence of viral infections between 2002 and 2020 is an indication that there would be many more pandemics in future after COVID-19.
He also noted that traditional medicine development in Nigeria is very slow, although he praised the organisers of the event, adding that the webinar was very relevant, bearing in mind the fact that the cure or vaccine for COVID-19 was still being developed by scientists.
In her presentation, Professor Adebukola Adefule-Ositelu, Chairman, Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board, recommended the following steps in order for African countries to win the war against viral infections:
“Wildlife markets, traditional pharmacopeia shops and products sold must be under government control and regulated; government should regularly disclose information and ensure international cooperation; governments must anticipate and prepare to stop the next emerging pandemic at the origin/onset, instead of reacting after an outbreak; government must allocate sufficient funds to research in re-emerging diseases; the healthcare facilities must be revamped and expanded before future outbreaks”.
Other academics and dignitaries who attended the webinar include Professor Folashade Ogunshola, acting vice-chancellor, University of Lagos; Professor Glory Ajayi, dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy of the same university and Pharm. Godswill Adeka, assistant director, Herbal Nutraceuticals Unit, NAFDAC.