Lagos – Professor Emeritus Joseph Okogun of the University of Ibadan, has urged scientists, chemists and clinicians to collaborate with the traditional practitioners to ensure standardisation of herbal drugs.
Okogun, also a chemist, made the plea at a public lecture organised by the Nigeria Academy of Science (NAS) in Lagos.
The lecture was entitled: “Drug Production Efforts in Nigeria and Anti-Cancer Recipes Emerge through Herbs, Chemistry and Biology”.
He said that many of the Nigerian scientists, chemists, pharmacologists stayed on the sidelines and criticised the researches and efforts of herbal practitioners in the country.
“During the pre-colonial era, traditional medicine controlled unchallenged the entire domain of the healing industry and the healing art in Nigeria and Africa in general.
“ But with the advent of colonial rule in the country, everything indigenous has been belittled as primitive, inferior and illegal.
“Following the gradual revival of Nigerian culture in general, traditional medicine is beginning to assume its rightful place of importance in the Nigerian environment, as many people now use these herbs.
“Production of drugs is no longer an option in Nigeria, but a possibility, because we have the raw materials and personnel.
“What is required is the political will to motivate and encourage the people involved,” he said.
Okogun said that a smooth collaboration could enhance the development of some natural drugs and formulate them into prescribed drugs, with the use of the country’s plant extracts.
He also encouraged chemists, clinicians and scientists to be involved in the standardisation and verification of herbal drugs.
“We, as clinicians, scientists and chemists, should collaborate and work with the traditional medicine practitioners.
“We need to analyse and carry out trials with them before usage of the drugs, to prevent side effects or complications,’’ he said.
In his remark, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, the President, Nigerian Academy of Science, urged the Federal Government to give science the opportunity it deserves in the country.
Tomori said that there was need to fund and develop drug researches, to reduce the burden of diseases and save many Nigerians.
“With the significant changes taking place in the country, science has not fared well, even with all the steps taken.
“The Federal Government should invest in basic science and drug researches to support the growth of the drug industry and other manufacturing industries.
“It will encourage indigenous drug makers to take bold, strategic steps in local drug production and in effect, spur the growth of the industry in Nigeria,“ he added.