Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, has once again hit the limelight as the Chairman of the16-man expert committee for the review of the first edition of the Nigeria Herbal Pharmacopoeia.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Clement Uwaifo, while inaugurating the committee in Abuja yesterday, said this was in recognition of the global upsurge in the use of herbal and traditional medicines in recent times, resulting in a huge market and wealth creation.
Uwaifo said Nigeria is blessed with vast bio-diversity of different medicinal herbal species, many of which had remained untapped.
In view of this, the permanent secretary said there was need to scientifically organise information and documentation on useful medicinal herbs which were found to be efficacious in the management and treatment of several ailments in Nigeria.
He further 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.
According to him, 22 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 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 the herbal pharmacopoeia represented the official documentation of medicinal plants, their values and standardisation 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.
He further appealed to the Ministry of Health to advocate the introduction of school herbal medicine in Nigerian universities so that students could pursue a career in such field of study as their counterparts who are orthodox medical doctors.
Describing herbal medicine as the most readily agreeable non-oil revenue generating heritage, Elujoba said the document could be used to register herbal medicine by NIPRID, SON and other related regulatory agencies.