Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu
By Patrick Ugeh
After decades of fighting for the formal recognition and acceptance of their products just like western medicine, traditional medicine practitioners appear to have now won the heart of the government.
This was as the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Wednesday disclosed that his ministry was in the process of integrating traditional medicine practice into medical school curriculum.
He also announced that following the rising abuse of codeine syrup, especially in the northern part of the country, the ministry was taking drastic steps to regulate the drug, stressing that it would henceforth be treated as a narcotic that should not be sold over the counter.
Chukwu, however, hinged the veiled official recognition of herbal medicine on the need for practitioners to go to medical school to equip themselves with the requisite expert knowledge.
He promised a level playing field to all stakeholders in the health sector.
While assuring that he would continue to support the pharmaceutical society in his official capacity, he called on herbal medicine practitioners to always lay emphasis on diagnosis before prescribing drugs to their patients.
He also said their drugs should be registered with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and packaged for export to earn money for the country.
The minister spoke when the new executive and board of fellows of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) paid him a courtesy visit.
He said that government was committed to the development of pharmacy in the country and had created an enabling environment for the local pharmaceutical industries to thrive.
“We are in the process of inaugurating a National Drug Advisory Team and launching National Drug Distribution Guidelines on February 7, 2013,” he said.
Chukwu added that regarding enforcement, the ministry was working to ensure that the regulatory bodies carried out their functions effectively.
The president of the association, Mr. Olumide Akintayo, commended the Federal Government for initiating a drug distribution guideline for the country.
He expressed optimism that the launching and implementation of the guideline would sanitise the drug distribution system and eliminate the unwholesome activities of dealers and peddlers of fake and counterfeit drugs.
He called for the reconstitution of the board of Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN) to enable it perform its statutory responsibilities and the representation of pharmacists on the boards of federal health institutions.