Amby Uneze in Owerri
The Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceuticals Research and Development (NIPRD), Abuja, Dr. Obi Adigwe has expressed federal government’s interest in promoting and improving herbal medicine for the cure of ailments.
This is as the Institute commended the management of STK Biotech Limited for producing world-class standard herbal supplement from plants for the treatment of diseases.
Adigwe, who made the observation during a facility tour of the factory at Umuoba, Uratta in Owerri North Local Government of Imo State, stated that the research for the production of the medicines met international standards more especially as the company sourced their raw materials locally and within the nearby West African sub-region.
According to him, there were a lot of potentials in what they were doing, adding, “I am impressed that they are able to transform what they had carried out in research into finished and useful products. It is a good beginning. The concept is quite encouraging inspite of the many challenging confronting you.”
Adigwe said, “My coming here and seeing what you are doing is a major step in coming to Abuja and Addis Ababa (African Union) headquarters for certification. We will see what to do to encourage you”.
He, however, urged the STK Biotech to carry the Anglo and Francophone West Africa countries in mind by printing the literature of the herbal supplement in English and French to enable both countries patronise the medicine.
Briefing the NIPRD Director General, Chairman of STK Biotech Limited, Mr. Stanley Ukaga said that they had been into research for a number of years having established partnership with Phytobiotechnology Research Laboratories in Cameroon and Science Medicine Research Institute United States of America (USA).
He said that time had come for the Nigerian government to fully support drug development projects involving the use of the herbs, adding “We have worked extensively on mushrooms which is an integral part of the STK Biotech products. Cultivation of mushrooms especially edible mushrooms for food, source of revenue as well as for medicinal purposes is very crucial to the Nigerian populace.
“We have succeeded in the cultivation of edible indigenous tropical mushrooms on different agricultural wastes for food and medicine. We have also put in place the facility to cultivate mushrooms to have ever-ready source and reduce our dependence on sourcing it from elsewhere beyond our shores,” he stated.
Ukaga maintained that inspite of the many challenges confronting them which include getting the regulators on time, power, dedicated manpower and government financial support, they were also confronted with issues of sourcing raw materials which were mainly located locally.
The Chief Operating Officer of STK Biotech, Prof. Kenneth Yongabi Anchang, who is also a Professor of Public Health and Infectiology, Imo State University, Owerri (IMSU) said STK Biotech was continuously identifying, testing and tagging plants as part of the development of a medicinal research garden. The results of this ongoing discovery which begun 10-11 years ago at the Phytobiotechnology Research Laboratories in Cameroon and is continuing here in Nigeria with the collaboration of Imo State University, Owerri gave credence to this discovery.
In her remark, Professor Chinyere Ukaga, a director of the company as well as a Professor of Public Health Parsitology, Imo State University, Owerri added that STK Biotech was engaged in a broad range of ecological scientific studies, ranging from ethno-botany and Phyto-biotechnology to medicine and pharmacology.
She noted that time had come for Nigerian government to fully support drug development projects involving the use of herbs to treat ailments including malaria, cancer, HIV, etc. “The need to develop accurate dosages for phyto-products which have been certified to have anti-parasitic activities is one of the focus of STK Biotech Ltd.
“The government needs to devise means of monitoring the medicinal plants, encourage their cultivation, conservation and preservation. This data can be generated through research by STK Biotech Ltd with support from the relevant funding bodies.
“There is need to centralise and expand the checklist of locally available medicinal plants in the country as a database for medicinal plant research”, he added.