Ahead of African Traditional Medicine Day (ATMD), today, experts have said Nigeria could make more than $19.4 billion (N13.58 trillion) yearly from ‘developing’ some aspects of traditional medicine (TM).
They also made recommendations on how TM could be maximised to boost foreign exchange earnings and healthcare in the country.
A professor of taxonomy and economic plants from the Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, University of Lagos, Prof. Dele Olowokudejo, told The Guardian that proper and organised collection, harvesting and sale of wild medicinal plants can provide a significant source of income for rural people and the government.
Olowokudejo said professional packaging and marketing of herbal remedies would be a source of foreign exchange for the government.
“The world market for herbal remedies in 1999 was calculated to be worth $19.4 billion (N13.58 trillion),” he said.
The professor of botany said TM could be effectively used in addressing viral and infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, monkeypox, Marburg virus and Ebola virus, among others.
He said several herbal remedies have been used to treat viral and infectious ailments traditionally for a long time and ethnomedicinal literature has documented numerous medicinal plants harbouring antiviral molecules.
He, however, said intensive basic and applied research is required to test for efficacy, toxicity and adverse reactions.
“Herbal sources provide researchers enormous scope to explore and bring out viable alternatives against viral and infectious diseases,” Olowokudejo said.
Professors of microbiology and immunology at the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Nile University of Nigeria, Abuja, Boaz Adegboro, and Jibril Imran, told The Guardian that the Nigerian government, through the ministry of health, is making efforts in getting around these challenges, as most of the issues were discussed recently.
They noted that Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said plans were in the pipeline to ensure traditional medicine is legally absorbed into the country’s Primary Health Care system, during the conference of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) in June.
Adegboro and Imran, who are also Fellows of the Academy of Medicine Specialties of Nigeria (AMSN), said the main objective of the conference is to encourage the growth and utilisation of the over 10,000 species of medicinal plants Nigeria is endowed with, as a potential source of raw materials for pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries.