The First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari on Saturday 4th of June, 2022 called on the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) Bill to regulate the practice and product as required by law.
Mrs Buhari made this call at the 1st TCAM Conference organized by the Office of the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, held at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, with the theme “Nigerian Indigenous Medicinal Plants:Health Benefits and Economic Potentials”.
The First Lady revealed that TCAM is a very important healthcare service delivery system recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) which includes healthcare, health practices or intervetions other than the conventional medicine and has been in existence as long as mankind for the management, treatment and prevention of diseases using plants, animals parts, water etc.
According to her, Nigeria is blessed with over 10,000 species of medicinal plants of which less than 20% is utilized, this valuable resources she said, often referred to as “Green Gold” can be harnessed for the production of medicine, cosmetic and other related products for the benefits of our people. “The Conference is coming at a time when people are looking for alternatives and moving towards natural products which is also in line with this Administrations agenda of boosting non oil exports which will lead to commercial cultivation of medicinal plants for health, economic and social benefit with the sole aim of providing health and job creation for our teeming youths and women.”
Speaking further, Mrs Buhari said that it is her recommendation and belief that the outcome of the conference will lead to the implementation of gradual integration of TCAM into the healthcare delivery system towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage; prompt passage of the TCAM Council Bill to regulate the practice and product as required by law; establishment of a vegetable fruit market for fresh produce, semi process and raw materials for women as well as a land for women to cultivate medicinal plants using good agricultural practices for their empowerment. She called on the wives of State Governors to adopt this initiative and implement it at state levels while calling on practitioners to work hamornously to propel TCAM forward.
Speaking at the event, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the aim of the conference is to bring together experts and stakeholders to discuss ways of advancing TCAM in Nigeria. He disclosed that traditional medicine, is all we had in this part of the world before the advent of orthodox medicine the same goes for all cultures and civilization. Applying scientist tools to this ancient knowledge over countless generations is what yielded orthodox medicine today. Therefore continued interest and research into traditional medicine is the right way to go for further development of these ancient Arts in Nigeria.
The Minister informed that it is instructive to note that a very high percentage of Nigerians seek and use traditional medicine, either as a matter of preference or as an addition to orthodox medicine, this reinforces the grounds for giving the traditional healing art a place in our health system. He assured that government will facilitate the wide scale adoption of TCAM in orthodox medical practice with the FMoH considering how to officially integrate TCAM in our Primary Health Care System.
The Honourable Minister of State for Health Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora in his welcome remarks said that the Conference will promote the cultivation and utilization of medicinal plants as a potential source of raw materials for pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic industries in order to create short, medium and long term value chain as well as attract agricultural business loans and Bank of Industry (BOI) manufacturing loans to boost economic development in Nigeria.
He disclosed that Nigeria and other African Countries currently benefit minimally from global herbal medicine market, projected at 7 trillion USD by 2050 and currently dominated by China, India, US, Germany and Thailand. Significantly the cultivation of medicinal plants and commercialization of herbal medicine will attract huge economic benefits to Nigeria especially in the areas of increased foreign exchange rate earnings, wealth creation and alleviation of poverty through creation of job opportunities.
Dr. Mamora further revealed the pragmatic steps the Ministry is currently taking to develop TCAM in Nigeria which includes: facilitating the passage of TCAM Council Bill into Law; proposal of a State-of-Art TCAM Hospital in Nigeria; inuaguration of an expert commitee that is currently working out modalities for the take-off of the TCAM Institute for training of TCAM Practitioners in Nigeria.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Macdonal Idu, a Professor of Phytomedicine at the University of Benin lamented that Nigeria might be on the verge of missing out on a market whose value would hit N1trn by 2025. Idu placed the current value at a conservative estimate of N200 billion, regretting that not much attention has been paid to harnessing the sector.
By: Blessing Efem
Signed:A.A.A Chindaya (Deputy Director Media & Public Relations)