By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Director General of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Adigwe has said that majority of Nigerians still have faith in the efficacy of traditional medicine, despite improvements made in development of modern healthcare system.
Against the background of a major breakthrough made by the institute in the area of Phyto medicine development, Adigwe said that Nigeria is known to have thousands of plants with proven ethno pharmaceutical and medicinal potentials that are not utilised.
Speaking during an oversight visit by a delegation of House of Representatives Adhoc committee on COVID-19 to NIPRD, Adigwe said in the olden days people have used these medicinal plants to threat sick persons.
“70 percent of Nigerians still use herbal medicines as first port of call for treatment of illnesses and that is the situation,” he said.
Adigwe said that NIPRD has initiated a more proactive strategy to encourage the development of herbal medicine in Nigeria.
According to him, rather than waiting in Abuja for the traditional medicine practioners to come for engagement, NIPRD decided to send its officers to the states to engage them and teach them better ways of documenting data about their traditional medicine and to avail themselves of the laid down processes for certifying their products.
Adigwe said that so far NIPRD has been able to train five persons each from the six geopolitical zones on Phyto medicine practice.
On the contributions made by the Institute at this period of COVID-19 pandemic, the DG said that early last year at the onset of the pandemic, NIPRD pioneered and strongly advocated indigenous manufacturing of hand sanitisers from locally sourced raw materials.
He said the Institute produced its own brand of hand sanitisers which has gone on to become famous for its high international quality.
He also said that NIPRD has been involved as sponsor, as well as technical partner to a number of ongoing Randomised Control Trials aimed at scientifically proving the efficacy of a number of conventional medicines currently at the Clinical Trials phase.
In addition, he said NIPRD has leveraged
its reputation as the first African Institute to develop a world-class phytomedicine from drug discovery up to phase two clinical trials, to begin work on repurposing Niprimune, its flagship immunomodulatory agent for relevant clinical studies for COVID-19.
“Several months after NIPRDs breakthrough in this area, The Government of Thailand approved the same phytomedicine for the management of COVID-19.
“These are just a few of the many areas where the Institute has supported the national response for the deadly virus.
“Our ground breaking work in various areas including Nanomedicine, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Development of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, Phytomedicinal Drug Discovery and several others, are at all advanced stages, and when supported to completion will ensure that Nigeria emerges Africas hub for all forms of pharmaceutical research, manufacturing and development,” he said.
Despite the potential that abound in NIPRD, Adigwe said there are still significant challenges facing the institute.
For instance, Adigwe said that prioritisation and adequate funding of the sector is still suboptimal.
“So far, despite this administration’s clear policy prioritisation, and marginal support, partners such as philanthropic organisations, and development partners are yet to align to government’s position.
“I therefore wish to use this opportunity to urge all well-meaning individuals and corporate entities to stand up now and be counted amongst Nigerias friends.
“We also expect that given your massive network and immense influence, you will reach out to stakeholders in the aforementioned categories to step up their support for NIPRD’s national Research and Development efforts for COVID-19 and other critical health issues that plague our people,” he said.