FG inaugurates committee to review Nigeria Herbal Pharmacopoeia

National Co-ordinator, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu (left); Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Clement Uwaifo, during the National Council on Health emergency meeting in Abuja.

*NCPNM, UNIMED partner to pioneer natural medicine in university, establish department for practice

In view of the increasing use of herbal and traditional medicines globally, the Federal Ministry of Health has inaugurated a 16-man Expert committee for the review of the first edition of the Nigeria Herbal Pharmacopoeia.The former Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Chairman Bioresources Conservation and Development Group (BCDG), Prof. Maurice Iwu chairs the Committee.Iwu, a professor of pharmacognosy is also the founder of Interceed Health Products (IHP), a subsidiary of BCDG.

Speaking at the inauguration last week in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Clement Uwaifo, said Nigeria was blessed with vast bio-diversity of different medicinal herbal species, many of which had remained untapped.He stated that there was need to scientifically organise information and documentation on useful medicinal herbs, which were found efficacious in the management and treatment of several ailments in Nigeria.

Uwaifo explained that the first edition of Nigeria Herbal Pharmacopoeia published with the support of World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2008, contained 42 commonly used medicinal plants in Nigeria.Twenty-two of the cultivated plants were indigenous to Nigeria, 18 were introduced into Nigeria from other countries, while only two were not grown in appreciable quantities in the country and as such predominantly imported.

The Permanent Secretary therefore charged members of the committee to put in their expertise and explore more herbal medicinal plants not captured in the first edition. He also advised the committee to take a cue from countries with various editions of Herbal Pharmacopoeia such as, Ghana and India to update and adopt plants with similar agronomical proportion with a view of coming up with a second edition.

Responding on behalf of the other members of the committee, the acting Chairman, Prof. Tony Elujoba, said that the Herbal Pharmacopoeia represented the official documentation of medicinal plants, their values and standardization of quality and quantity.The document, according to Elujoba, was also to serve as a guide to herbal production, quantity control and assurance, so that people who used herbal medicinal products would be sure of their efficacy and safety standard.

Also, the Nigerian Council of Physicians of Natural Medicine and Association of Physicians of Alternative Medicine (NCPNM) has collaborated with the University of Medical Sciences (UNIMED), Ondo state, to establish department of herbal medicine in the institution.

The President of NCPNM, Prof. Magnus Atilade gave the assurance during a courtesy visit to the office of the UNIMED Vice Chancellor, Prof. Friday Okonofua on Thursday March 1, 2018.

Atilade, who was represented by the Secretary of the association, Dr. Olarewaju Ojeyemi, said the council was thrilled with the news of UNIMED’s interest in the introduction of herbal medicine into the university’s curriculum.

“We are indeed very glad for giving us this opportunity today in order to discuss with you on the way forward on collaboration on training and research in complementary and alternative medicine for the overall benefit of Ondo State and Nigeria at large.”

Okonofua, who lauded members of the council for the visit, noted that it came at a time when the university was putting all necessary resources together to ensure a smooth take-off of the programme.

While underscoring the importance of herbal medicine, he said “most drugs used to treat malaria are roots and herbs taken from here, processed abroad and sold to us at high price.”

“The UNIMED senate has approved that herbal medicine be introduced before the end of the year and since we are the first to start this in the country, we are ready to collaborate with the council in drafting the curriculum and harnessing needed resources to kick start the programme.”The Vice Chancellor called for recommendations and proposals from the council ahead of the National Universities Commission’s resource verification visit.

In this article:
Clement UwaifoMaurice Iwu

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