The Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO) in Oshodi on Thursday urged research institutes to increase their awareness campaigns on the importance of traditional herbal medicine.
Dr Gloria Elemo, the FIIRO Director-General, who made the appeal at a news conference in Lagos, said many Nigerians were ignorant of the inherent value and usefulness of indigenous herbs.
Elemo said that herbal and organic products in Nigeria could compete with conventional drugs from other countries.
“Research institutes in Nigeria need to develop herbal medicine to attract varying investors.
“There are great potentials in herbal medicine and we can attract trade buyers from across the African region, the wider markets of the Middle-East, Europe and the United States of America.
“However, that is if we can increase awareness, fine tune, and package these drugs attractively,’’ she said
The FIIRO chief said that the development of herbal medicine through research would reduce importation of drugs, cure some terminal diseases, and enhance the agricultural sector of the economy.
“The mono-economy system has failed us; diversification to agriculture will not only save us, but will also create jobs for teeming youths.
“As we speak, FIIRO has developed a drug that can stabilise sickle cell anaemia patients during their crisis periods and reduce the disease’s fatality rate,’’ she added.
In view of these appeal, Elemo disclosed that research institutes in Nigeria were collaborating to host this year’s edition of the annual HerbFEST Expo, scheduled to hold from Oct.11 to Oct. 13 at Owerri, Imo State.
She said the expo, which is an annual regional, natural products exhibition, would bring together stakeholders actively involved in research, promotion and development of herbal and natural products.
According to her, the theme for the 9th edition of HerbFEST is: “Food as Medicine: African Herbs and Spices as Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals’’.
“The HerbFEST 2016 expo will focus on food as medicine from African herbs and spices, how it can be used to prevent, manage and treat diseases show-casing research products obtained from nutrition.
“The expo will also promote the activities of traditional practitioners and community health workers to stimulate investment in the herbal and natural sector.’’
Also speaking, Pharmacist Sam Etutavie, the Director-General, Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), lauded the collaborations among research institutes in Nigeria, but said it was insufficient.
“The synergy between the research institutes will go a long way in sensitising the public on the usefulness of natural herbs after necessary research on the effect and quantity to use,’’ Etutavie said.
Etutavie, who was represented by Emmanuel Ogah, an agency official, said that the sensitisation should also focus on the importance and advantage of using natural medicine after it had undergone the required research.
He said the agency would ensure research herbs were integrated into the health care delivery system to contribute to the nation’s wealth and job creation programmes.
NAN reports that the research institutes collaborating to host the HerbFEST 2016 are the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi and the Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA).
Other are the International Centre for Ethnomedicine and Drug development and the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP).