By Rachael Abujah
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has expressed commitment to support traditional medicine practitioners in the country.
The Minister of State for Health, Mr Joseph Ekumankama, said this at the commemoration of the 2022 African Traditional Medicine day on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ekumankama said that traditional medicine played a major role in people’s life and national development but its innovation was still low or remained on individuals.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of this year’s celebration is “Two decades of African traditional medicine day: Progress towards achieving universal health coverage in Africa”.
Ekumankama said the theme called for taking stock of achievements in the sector since the inception of the annual remembrance of ATM Day from 2001-2020 and the impact on the healthcare delivery system.
“Indeed, Nigeria and other African countries have delivered on key policies and programmes, aimed at promoting and developing various forms of TCAM practices and products within the region,” he said.
The minister said that the progress recorded so far was critical to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
According to him, about 80 per cent of the population, especially those residing in rural communities, patronise TCAM services as their main source of health care.
He said that the availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability of TCAM made it popular among communities.
“Achieving UHC requires multiple approaches which include the primary health care approach, life course approach, and both are critical.
“A primary health care approach focuses on organising and strengthening the health system so that people can access services based on their needs and preferences, at the earliest, and in their everyday environments,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Representative, Dr Francis Ukwuije, Health Economist, said that Nigeria was one of the African countries that reported improvement in the availability, affordability, accessibility and safety of traditional nedicine practices.
Ukwuije said that the country produced and was involved in the large-scale cultivation of medicinal plants and producing traditional medicine locally.
He said this was according to the progress report on the implementation of traditional medicine strategy in Africa.
“There were submissions from Nigeria to the regional expert committee for products developed as therapeutics for COVID-19, the submissions are still under review,” he said.
He called on governments to continue to strengthen collaboration between science, technology and innovation institutions such as NIPRD, NIMR; traditional health practitioners and the private sector.
He said that such collaboration would fast-track research and development, and local manufacturing of traditional medicine-based therapeutics for the health and well-being of Africa’s people.
He, however, said that WHO would continue to provide technical assistance to Nigeria to ensure local manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals and traditional medicine-based therapeutics.
On the role of traditional medicine in treatment of COVID-19, Zainab Sharif, Director and Head of Department Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines (TCAM), said COVID-19 called for the need to exploit the African treasures by looking inward for local solutions.
Sharif said the pandemic had harnessed awareness of the values of traditional medicine, investing in research to produce home-grown solutions and well-being of the Continent.
“TMPs submissions of 59 herbal products for the management of COVID-19-related symptoms have led to the listing of some herbal products. Pharmaceutical companies in Western countries are looking forward to Africa for APIs.
“COVID-19 herbal medicines such as Madagascan COVID-19 herbal mixture has been reportedly used in the management of patients with related symptoms and is currently under the third phase of clinical trial.
“Trials in 12 Member States, including South Africa, Nigeria, and Congo are currently ongoing. TMPs have played a significant role in prevention measures in most communities in Africa,” she said.