Experts in the traditional medicine sector have urged the Federal Government to look at the sector’s potentials to salvage the nation’s economy.
They made the plea at a two-day conference on Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) organised by the Ministry of Health and the Office of the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In response, Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire said, a very high percentage of Nigerians seek and use traditional medicine, either as a matter of preference or as an addition to orthodox medicine. This, he added reinforces the grounds for giving the traditional healing art a place in the country’s health system.
He disclosed that plans were underway to absorb Traditional, Alternative, and Complementary (TCAM) medicine into the country’s Primary Health Care System, noting that it was time to
put the medical knowledge and skills of the forefathers of the country on the front burner for greater value addition.
“The Federal Ministry of Health will consider how to officially integrate Traditional, Alternative, and Complementary medicine in our Primary Health Care System. Before this is done, however, it is important that the practice is property regulated to assure health benefits accrue to our people”, he said.
Earlier, the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, noted that the country was not sufficiently harnessing medicinal plants for economic growth and development. He further disclosed the steps the government would take to reverse the trend.
“It was also important to note that Nigeria and other African Countries currently benefit minimally from the global herbal medicine market, projected at 7 trillion USD by 2050; and is currently dominated by China, India, US, Germany and Thailand.
“Significantly, the cultivation of medicinal plants and commercialization of herbal medicines will attract huge economic benefits to Nigeria, especially in the following areas: increase foreign exchange earnings and wealth creation, alleviate poverty through the creation of job opportunities in areas of cultivation and conservation of Medicinal Plants in Nigeria.
“Assuredly, the Federal Ministry of Health is committed to developing and promoting Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Nigeria and is currently taking these pragmatic steps as follows;
“Initiated sensitization programmes and activities to promote cultivation, commercialization and use of indigenous Medicinal Plants in Nigeria; Facilitated the passage of the TCAM Council Bill into Law, to effectively coordinate and regulate TCAM practice in the Country”.
“Proposed a State-of-Art TCAM Hospital in Nigeria. Inaugurated an Expert Committee that is currently working out modalities for the take-off of TCAM Institute for the training of TCAM Practitioners in Nigeria”.
The First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, in her remarks called on all stakeholders, especially the Federal Government to ramp up utilization of its traditional medicines, especially in healthcare and economic development.
She noted that while alternative healthcare like acupuncture and ayurveda have been imported and accepted in the country, the traditional medicine potential remains under-utilized at less than 20 percent.
Harping on the need to develop the Traditional Medicine sector to a profit generating venture, Herbal Medicine Producers, Dr. Uzu Onyemaechi Robert who is the Managing Director of Ruzu Holistic Healthcare Limited said the Traditional Herbal Medicine sector needs government intervention in terms of grant and loan support.
“If there’s budget of five hundred million to one billion naira, employment would be generated and foreign exchange would come to government’s purse because herbal production is a value chain that would require a lot of manpower from sourcing for raw materials to marketing”, Uzu explained
He also said, their doors are open to private investors.
“Our doors are open to private investors and the returns are amazing! There is no loss in this traditional medicine business. To be a part of us, bring your money, we sign a Memorandum of Understanding and you go to sleep, your money will be counting for you”, he said.
Chairman, committee on development of protocol on evaluation of medicinal plants and committee on establishment of TCAM Institute, Prof. MacDonald Idu, hinted that the value of traditional medicinal plants in Nigeria would hit N1 trillion by 2025.
He however lamented that the country was not doing enough to conserve the plants, and maximise them effectively for the nation’s economic growth.