How firms can aid medical research
Pharmaceutical firms have been asked to fund research and development of indigenous herbal plants.
These herbs produce plant materials containing ingredients that can provide medical and health benefits, researchers at the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), Lagos, have said.
Speaking when students from the Department of Plant Science and applied Zoology, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, Ogun State visited the agency, a Chief Research Officer (CRO), Emmanuel Orgah, said if pharmaceutical companies fund researches, all stakeholders would be better for it.
The students, who are in their final year, came to acquaint themselves with the vast potentials of natural products, ethno-botany and its application, traditional medicine knowledge and practices.
Orgah said the students should not allow their interests in traditional medicine to wane, as there is a growing global interest in alternative health products and resurgence in the use of medicinal herbs to improve health or alleviate the symptoms of a wide range of ailments, which is on the increase. ?Herbs are leaves, roots and flowers of plants grown and processed for culinary, cosmetic, industrial, medicinal, decorative, flavoring and fragrance purposes. There are three ways raw flora can yield wealth: sold as raw material; sold as extracts of various degrees of refinement and sold as molecular models for synthesising new drugs. The most popular herbal products are laxatives, weight-loss remedies, immune system enhancers, sexual performance aids, anti-ageing remedies and products to relieve anxiety and stress. Certified organic production increases the acceptance of herbs.?
Orgah who titled his presentation, ?Exploiting the wealth in the green estate?, said opportunities abound in traditional medicine which the students can explore. They include but not limited to enthusiasm to have ?natural? life styles and use environment friendly products; resurgence of interest on natural products drugs, cosmetics; absence of cures for deadly diseases; absence of proper cures for chronic ailments; disabilities during ageing and resistance build up by microbes to modern drugs.
?I have identified threats to herbal plants to include lack of proper quality raw materials; banning of exports of medicinal plants; stringent regulations for control and loss of traditional knowledge. But with your determination and mine, traditional medicine will take its rightful place.?
The Director-General, Dr Tam Okujagu, hailed the students for their interest in traditional medicine, saying:
?I am happy that these youths have expressed desire in herbal plants. It is my desire to stimulate greater enthusiasm and dedication in science, technology and innovation generally, especially with regards to natural product research and development and growth of this great nation. You are following a right path. This exposure maximises the learning experience of the trainees, and has been fingered as perhaps a contributory factor to their outstanding performance among peers.?
The Course Coordinator, Dr Joseph Ashidi, said the excursion was a stimulating experience and has encouraged the students in choosing careers in Pharmaceutical Botany and Medicinal Plants Research and other natural products development activities.
?This excursion alone carries 15 per cent in the overall assessment of the course and also will help the students in preparation for their examinations.?
The students were guided on a tour of the agency by Director of Research, Mr Sam Etatuvie, another course coordinator, Mrs Roseline Feyisola.