Nigeria has over 10,000 species of traditional medicinal plants — Mamora

Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora.

Minister of State for Health, Senator Adeleke Mamora, said Nigeria is endowed with over 10,000 species of medicinal plants.

He also said that the country has good arable land and good climatic conditions to harness the potential of plants, for health, social, economic and other benefits.

Mamora said this in Abuja at the opening of a Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) conference.

The conference was organized by TCAM, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World Health Organization has identified the medicinal plant as the whole or part of a plant that contains bioactive substances that can be used for therapeutic purposes or serve as a precursors for drug synthesis.

Nigeria has a fully-fledged TCAM department within its Ministry of Health, responsible for the formulation, review and implementation of policies and guidelines for research, development and regulation herbal medicines.

The country launched the Traditional Medicine Policy in 2007, the main objective of which is to harness the potential and economic benefits of TCAM.

The country also has a compendium of herbal medicines, the Nigerian Herbal Pharmacopeia (NHP), first published in 2008 and currently under revision.

The compendium contained medicinal plants used for the treatment and safe management of various diseases.

Mamora said the conference should promote the cultivation and use of medicinal plants as raw materials for the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries.

He said this is aimed at creating a short, medium and long-term value chain and attracting agricultural and manufacturing loans.

The Minister said this was important as Nigeria and other African countries currently benefited very little from the global herbal medicine market estimated at $7 trillion by 2050.

He said the market had been dominated by China, India, the United States, Germany and Thailand.

“Significantly, the cultivation of medicinal plants and the marketing of medicinal plants will attract huge economic benefits for Nigeria.

“Particularly in the following areas: increasing foreign exchange earnings and wealth creation, alleviating poverty through the creation of employment opportunities in the fields of cultivation and conservation of medicinal plants in Nigeria”, a- he added.

He assured that the ministry remained committed to developing and promoting traditional, complementary and alternative medicine in Nigeria.

He said stakeholders have initiated awareness raising programs and activities to promote the cultivation, marketing and use of indigenous medicinal plants in the country.

He “facilitated the passing of the TCAM Council Bill, to effectively coordinate and regulate the practice of TCAM in the country.

The stakeholders also “inaugurated a committee of experts who are currently working on the modalities for launching the TCAM Institute for the training of TCAM practitioners in Nigeria.”

Professor MacDonald Idu, Professor of Phytomedicine at the University of Benin, said in a keynote address that if properly harnessed, the value of traditional herbal medicines in Nigeria would reach N1 trillion by 2025.

He estimated the current market value of traditional herbal medicines at around 200 billion naira, lamenting that little attention has been given to exploiting the sector.

“We talked about 200 billion dollars. It’s conservative. I’m serious. Other forms of literature that I have also read, we are going to hit about 1 trillion naira by 2025. I know what that means. That’s a lot of money,” he said.

Idu said Nigeria must show commitment to diversifying the economy.

“Nigeria, I’m sorry, we don’t follow the chops. We talk a lot, but we don’t follow the chops. So my point of interest is to get the hearts of our people to realize that we need to diversify our economy.

“We have no reason to be poor. This is the real truth. We have no reason to import everything we need to survive. It’s already here. Why do you have them here?

“So I believe that if we are able to put this platform back together, and then we are able to organize ourselves and the traditional medicine practitioners and producers, we should be able to collect enough money so that this country can move forward,” Idu added.

Earlier, First Lady Mrs. Aisha Buhari lamented the low level of utilization of over 10,000 species of medicinal plants in the country despite its huge need for the production of medicines, cosmetics and other essentials .

Buhari expressed the commitment of the current administration to boost the commercial cultivation of these plants for the health, economic and social benefits of the people.

She said it would also open up new areas of wealth and job creation for the country’s burgeoning youth.

The conference is expected to bring together experts and other stakeholders in various fields of TCAM to reflect on the importance of indigenous medicinal plants for the delivery of health care in Nigeria. (NOPE)

Alvin J. Chase