The wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mrs Aisha Buhari, on Tuesday advocated the use of traditional medicine as an integral part of health care services.
Consequently, she urged Nigerians to embrace traditional medicine for the treatment it offers through the use of natural plants and herbs.
Buhari, represented by Hajiya Hajo Sani, made the call in Abuja, at the presentation of three books by Zainab Sharif, a Pharmacist and Director/Head of Department, Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines (TCAM), Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).
It was reported that the books are “Medicinal First Aid Kit (Kitchen Spices Rack), Common Medicinal Plants of Nigeria and Healing Recipe and Herbal Therapy for Common Ailments.
They provide information about the various herbal plants available in Nigeria.
Buhari, who noted that Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine were also important components of treatment options, commended the author for documenting her experience.
“I wish to therefore congratulate the author for this great feat and call on Nigerians to purchase copies, and use them at home, to ensure long lasting healthy living.
“I also call on other traditional complementary and alternative medicine practitioners to conduct their research with approved institutions to find cures for diseases that have bedeviled Nigerians,” she said.
The wife of the president said that the books would be of utmost benefit to Nigerians and health care practitioners.
The Ooni of Ife, his Majesty Adeyeye Enitan, who attended the occasion as the royal father of the day, said that the country needs to focus on improving and developing its traditional herbal medicine.
According to him, it can also be a source of income for the country.
He said that traditional medicine explored the use of diverse medicinal and natural plants and herbs.
“We will not believe our common onions has antioxidants and compounds that fight inflammation, decrease triglycerides and reduce cholesterol levels, all of which may lower heart disease risk.
“Their potent anti-inflammatory properties may also help reduce high blood pressure and protect against blood clots,” he explained.
He said that traditional medicine “is a major part of our social health repositioning in Africa and serves as a major source of health services”.
Also, the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, said that the ministry had taken giant steps toward the promotion, development and institutionalisation of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine practices in the country.
“This includes the existence of the Department of Traditional, Complementary & Alternative Medicines (TCAM).
“Review of the National Herbal Pharmacopoeia, 2008, to include more medicinal plants.
“Also, the collaboration with the University of Benin for the establishment of TCAM Institute and inauguration of the committee for the setting up of the Institute and the Review of the Traditional Medicine Policy 2007.’’
According to him, other steps are the collaboration with Raw Materials Research and Development Council for the cultivation and processing of Artemisia annua as well as training, contract packaging and internally generated revenue (IGR).
“The establishment of a data bank of Traditional Medicine Practitioners in the 36 States and FCT and their capacity building.
“Establishment of a herbal Tea shop for the dispensing of herbal medicinal teas to ensure a healthy workforce are all part of the efforts to promote TCAM in the country,’’ Mamora said.
The minister said that the government was proud of the progress made so far, especially under the current administration.
He urged all Nigerians to take advantage and equip themselves with the knowledge of indigenous medicinal plants from the books.
Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF), said that Nigeria had depended a lot on imported medicine saying there was need to encourage more Nigerians to venture into traditional medicines
Also, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Mr Adulaziz Mashi Abdulahi, commended the efforts of the author of the books.
Abdulahi stated that TCAM practices were actually growing in popularity around the world as they offer complementary healing for modern medicines.
“Numerous other scientific organisations have been studying traditional medicines and their effectiveness,” he said.
In her remarks, Sharif debunked the claims that traditional herbal medicines were less likely to cause adverse reactions as compared to orthodox medicines.
She said: “It is a wrong notion because traditional herbal medicines too also have side effects.
“They can be toxic and that is why we have to do a lot of research on it,” she said.
According to her, Nigeria is blessed with vast flora biodiversity and this makes traditional medicine readily available and accessible.
Sharif lamented that despite the abundance of raw materials and inherent benefit of traditional herbal medicine, the development of traditional herbal medicine practice still posed a great challenge to the country.
It was reported that the event was an avenue to discuss issues regarding the development of indigenous herbal plants among policy makers.