By Zayamu Hassan
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that it remained committed to supporting the Federal Government in its goal of achieving self-sufficiency in the local production of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, traditional medicine and researches.
The WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, stated this at the commemoration of 2021 Traditional Medicine Day, in Abuja, Monday.
Represented by EPI Focal Point, Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Dr Kofi Boateng, the Country Representative disclosed that the WHO Nigeria has taken it up to support the Federal Ministry of Health “and in particular the department of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines.
He said they it will also review the Traditional Medicines Policy 2007, review of the Nigeria Pharmacopoeia 2008 and the development of a 5-year strategic plan to implement the new policy and the revised pharmacopoeia.”
He noted that Africa has a long history of traditional medicine and practitioners that play an important role in providing care to populations over the centuries.
According to him: “For the past 20 years, countries in the WHO African Regional Office have marked the African Traditional Medicine Day on 31st of August each year. WHO advocate for strengthening the linkage between traditional medicine and institutionalized care in line with the WHO strategy.
“We are still battling the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO recognizes that traditional, complementary and alternative medicine has many benefits when properly harness. Therefore, researches into our traditional medicines is an effort in the right direction.”
He, however, vowed that the WHO would continue to provide technical assistance to the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NPRD) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in improving the quality of medicinal products and ensure the listing of the products in the National Essential Medicines List.
While commending the federal government for its efforts in developing herbal medicine in the country, the WHO Country Representative said: “The listing of 14 herbal medicinal products by NAFDAC against COVID-19 and ongoing clinical trials on them, is in line with the Regional Expert Committee on COVID-19 aim of elevating the standards of clinical trials of traditional medicine for COVID-19.
“The ongoing research(s) in the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development and other higher institutions, highlights the interest of the Government of Nigeria to develop and promote African Traditional Medicines.”
Speaking earlier, the Minister of State for Health, Adeleke Mamora, said that his ministry has begun the process of reviewing the traditional medicine policy.
“All these measures are aimed at strengthening our resources for delivery of qualitative and safe traditional medicine. Also, we have put in placed an experts committee for the setting up of traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine Institute to ensure for the training of professionals in this sector.
“The series of events during this period of COVID-19 pandemic calls for the needs to look inwards and consider local production of medicines as necessary for national health security and attainment of the universal health coverage.”