Nigeria To Showcase Rich Herbal Medicine At Festival

By Abiose Adelaja Adams

Mainstreaming herbal medicine into healthcare delivery system and harnessing its multi-billion dollar worth in global trade, will be at the forefront of the agenda this year’s Festival of Herbs Expo, according to the organisers.

The festival popularly called HerbFEST, will take place in Lagos next week and is set to feature over 100 small and medium scale enterprises involved in the manufacture of herbal and natural products, as well as scientists, researchers, traditional medicine pratitioners, the academia and indigeneous healers.

The host and organizer of HerbFEST and director general of Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency, NNMDA, a federal parastatal under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Tamuno Okujagu, said nearly 80 per cent of African and Asian populations depends on traditional medicines for their primary healthcare.

“In Nigeria, more than 80 percent of the rural population use medicinal herbs or indigeneous systems of medicine,” he stated.

Similarly, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral commission, INEC, Maurice Iwu, a professor of Pharmacognosy and chairman of Bio-resources Development and Conservation Programme, a joint collaborator with the NNMDA estimates the global herbal medicine industry to be worth over $100billion.

“I reviewed a handbook of medicinal plants in 1993 of more than 2,000 plant species used in traditional medicine practice in various parts of the continent. Nigeria, like many other African countries, plays a very significant role in this industry,’ said Iwu.

Citing further examples, Okujagu recalled how clinical plant-based research has made particularly rewarding progress in the important fields of anti-malarials (artemisinin), anticancer (example, toxoids and camptothecins) and metabolic disorder (includes diabetes) and even in treatment of sickle cell anaemia.

These diseases are leading causes of death in West Africa.

He asserted that natural products can make substantial contributions to health care delivery and general wellness, but pointed out the major problem is the people’s general perception of these products.

“The challenges we face is acceptability, wrong perceptions, poor quality control and dosage.”

On wrong perceptions, he said the role of herbs in healthcare has been relegated to the background because of a wrong perception that they are only used by the poor and are administered by herbalists or traditional medicine practitioners alongside spiritual rituals.






     

     

    “HerbFEST aims to tackle such challenges as well as showcase our rich biodiversity. The workshop will include capacity building aimed at improving the processes of preparation, dosage and administration of herbal products,” he said.

    Other things to be showcased at the festival include, research and development results, NNMDA’s achievements, Nigeria’s rich biodiversity and investment opportunities for the world so as to enhance patronage and recognition of small producers.

    Furthermore, this year’s discourse will also focus on nutrition, health foods and medicinal plants used in the management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and metabolic disorders.

     

    The festival will equally provide the platform for  entrepreneurs, both small and medium scale, to partner with financial institutions such as Central Bank, Bank of Industry, Export/Import Promotion Banks, local as well as foreign investors.

     

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