The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Thursday indicated that Nigeria was making headway in getting local cures for COVID-19.
The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, gave this indication at the task force press conference in Abuja.
He said the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department of the Federal Ministry of Health had forwarded some of the claims for COVID-19 cure to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control.
According to the SGF, some of the claims for COVID-19 cures have met preliminary requirements, but the NAFDAC will evaluate them for listing.
Also on Thursday, NAFDAC met with alternative medical practitioners and researchers on the listing of herbal medicines for COVID-19 treatment.
According to the agenda of the meeting, issues such as COVID-19 and herbal medicines as well as NAFDAC food and chemical laboratory testing were discussed.
There were indications also Thursday that the Federal Ministry of Health had directed NAFDAC to carry out necessary procedures for the assessment of a plant-based cough mixture to treat COVID-19 patients.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mashi Abdullahi, issued the directive in a memo with reference TCAM/077/I/65, addressed to the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye.
The document, dated April 28, 2020, was titled, ‘Formulation of a Phyto-Medicine-Based Cough Mixture/Syrup for the Management of COVID-19 Patients by Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Department of the Ministry.’
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Wednesday said the local medicines in Nigeria had not been tested and could be poisonous.
FG directs NAFDAC to evaluate local COVID-19 cures
On Thursday, the task force Chairman, Mustapha, said the PTF would continue to support efforts to invent a local cure for coronavirus, adding that the ministry of health had started evaluating some claims.
He stated, “For some time now, there have been claims of inventions and cures related to COVID-19. The PTF, as part of its mandate, remains supportive of and receptive to outcomes of research. It, however, finds it imperative to re-iterate its position on the need for such discoveries to undergo the scientific validation processes.
“The PTF is aware that the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department of the Federal Ministry of Health has been evaluating such claims and forwarded some that have met the preliminary requirements to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.”
Also, the ministry of health in its letter to the NAFDAC DG noted there was no definite treatment or vaccine for COVID-19.
It stated, “This has necessitated countries to look for solutions from within and Nigeria is no exception. It is worthy to note that Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which could be exploited.
“It is heartwarming to note that the Department of the TCAM has taken the pains to research into scientific materials to come up with a formulation intended for the management of cough in COVID-19 and other cough-related infections.”
According to the ministry, the formulation is a Cov-herbal cough mixture.
It said, “Interestingly, all the ingredients that make up the formulations are medicinal plants that are widely used as food materials and medicines.
“They include Allium sativa (garlic); Allium cepa (onions); Zingiber officinale (ginger): Piper guineense (West African Black Pepper); and Adansonia digitata (baobab fruit). The innovation here is the composition of the formulation.
“These medicinal plants have documented scientific evidences of long use for the management of cough and other respiratory infections, with medicinal properties of mucoiytic, antitussive, expectorant, soothing, demulcent, anti- inflammatory and antiviral effects.”
The ministry stated that it was determined to “walk the talk” in the promotion and integration of herbal medicine into the health care delivery system.
“In view of the foregoing and the desire of the ministry to showcase to the public a product that is 100 per cent sourced locally, you are requested to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.”
In a chat with newsmn on Thursday, NAFDAC Director of Public Affairs, Dr Abubakar Jimoh, explained herbal drugs were listed after it had been confirmed that they were not toxic.
He, however, said that such listed drugs were not usually given full registration.
In a related development, the leadership of NAFDAC met with 35 players in the herbal and alternative medicine sector as part of efforts to find a treatment to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The virtual meeting, which was convened by the Director General of NAFDAC, had in attendance over 35 players in the herbal medicine sector including two professors of Pharmacognosis, Maurice Iwu and Anthony Elujoba, who was once an acting Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
Some others at the meeting were Prof. Martins Emeje of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development; the Managing Director, Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, Matthew Azoji; and Prof. McDonald Edu of the Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, University of Benin.
Others are Executive Director, Yemkem International Group, Mr Akinyemi Ayeni; and Dr. Oluwatobi Abiola, Managing Director of Ablat Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of Yoyo Bitters.
The meeting also had in attendance representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Investment as well as the Department of Traditional and Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the Ministry of Health.
The meeting was the third edition of the Nigerian Herbal Medicine Product Committee symposium which seeks to explore herbal solutions to health challenges in the country
However, the NAFDAC DG said only one firm had so far approached the agency for approval and it was for the treatment of the symptoms of COVID-19, not the virus itself.
Adeyeye said all claims must go through necessary testing before clinical trials can commence.
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