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Don wants govt to establish research institute for African medicinal plants

By Gordi Udeajah, Umuahia |   03 December 2015   |   12:48 am  

image source research.mdhs.unimelb

PROFESSOR of Biochemistry at the Abia State University Uturu (ABSU), Dr. Iheanyichukwu Elekwa, has attributed the threat posed to human existence by the phenomenon called ‘ Climate Change’ to the failure of humans to pay back in kind the friendship that plants bestow on humans.

Elekwa who stated this while delivering the 19th Inaugural Lecture of the university, which topic was “Plants: Man’s Friend Indeed” said: “We humans do not return friendship to plants the way these defenseless organisms give their love, kindness and friendship to us”.

He concluded his inaugural lecture making eight recommendations among which are that it is now ripe for the federal government to establish a Research Institute for African Medicinal Plants which aim is the transformation of the African herbal medicine into a complete medical system like the Chinese Traditional Medicine.

“That our food industries should be oriented and encouraged to begin to produce functional foods that provide health benefits beyond those supplied by the traditional nutrients they supply that is foods fortified with phytochemicals.”

Governments should reach out to native doctors and help to establish a win-win relationship between biochemistry and Traditional Medicine stressing that no effort should be spared in this regard, no matter how difficult the beginning may be.

While he recommended further that environment conservation with emphasis on plant protection should be incorporated into the curricula of all universities as one of the general studies courses at the 100 level, Ethnopharmacology which he said is the traditional use of plants for treatment of diseases, should be taught as a distinct subject in the medical faculties of Nigerian universities.

According to prof Elekwa, it is on the strength of the above that government and the society. Should work hard to woo the herbalist/native doctor out of his secretive and occultic cocoon and marry him to biochemistry.

He buttressed his assertion by quoting Guatama Buddha’s remarks that “the plant is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demand for its sustenance and extends generously the products of life activity, provides protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axeman who destroys it”.

Elekwa defined Biochemistry as the “ chemistry of life and it is process. It is indeed the study of the chemical events that are responsible for the activities of living things. Biochemistry is a growing discipline in the various fields of study of Biological and Life Sciences in view of the crucial roles biomolecules play in meeting man’s needs”.

According to him, as biochemistry has grown, so has the need to relate biochemical phenomena to nutrition, diagnostic medicine, physiology, food science and technology, agriculture and environmental control, drug development and management of diseases.

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