Vice Chancellor of University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, has urged researchers in Africa to pay more attention on medicinal plants and natural products in order to reduce medical tourism.
Prof. Ozumba said this, in Nsukka, on Monday, during the 2018 international conference of West African Network of Natural Products Research Scientists (WANNPRES) titled “New Frontier in Transforming the Future of Medicinal Plants and Natural Products Research”.
He said that the role of complementary and alternative therapies were becoming part of healthcare delivery system in most countries as they have helped to improve healthcare.
“Many countries in the world now make millions of dollars in exporting medicinal plants and natural products to other countries.
“In most countries integrative medicine is the protocol where conventional and complementary therapies are deployed together in a coordinated way for the overall good of patients.
“To reduce medical tourism and improved healthcare in Africa we must focus our research on medicinal plants and natural products,” he said.
The VC who was represented by Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration Prof Charles Igwe expressed concern that Nigeria and other African countries spent billions of dollars yearly to import health supplement derived from natural products.
“it is patinent that researchers in sub-Sahara Africa key in strongly and be at the centre stage in exploring the great benefits of natural products and remedies.
“It’s my believe that this conference will provide the platform to cross fertilization of ideas, uncover ground breaking research findings in field of natural and complementary health remedies, ” he said.
In a remark the National Coordinator of WANNPRES in Nigeria Prof Joseph Agbedahunsi said the association came on board in 2002 at Abuja with members from 15 countries in Africa .
According to him, some of the member countries of WANNPRES includ: Nigeria, Ghana , Mali, Gambia,Niger, and Chad.
Agbedhinsi said one of the cardinal objectives of WANNPRES was to help in proffering solution to numerous challenges facing health, agriculture and scientific problems in Africa.
He continued, “For those of us from Nigeria, it’s our desire and hope that our various researches will be translated to finished products that will soon be registered by National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration (NAFDAC) for public use.
“This medicinal drugs from plants will be for the well being of our people especially on chronic diseases like diabetes millitus, hypertension and sickle-cell disorder .
“I advice research scientists in the country to quicken action to bring their research work to finished products before smart scientists abroad will help them finished it and take all the credits, “he said.
He urged both Federal and state government to invest more on research by equipping libraries, laboratories and research centres with up-to-date equipment and textbooks.
“”No country will develop without huge investment on scientific researches and innovations, ” he said..
Earlier, the chairman of local organising Committee (LOC) Prof Peter Aka of the Faculty of Pharrmactical, University of Nigeria Nsukka said that natural product research was as old as man, noting that the ancient man was able to identify natural remedies effective to cure his ailments as well as for other purposes.
“Nature has given us abundance natural resources to take care of all the problems of mankind.
“We have ourselves to blame it if we fail to harness these free gifts of nature.
“We must not always depend on the western world for every drugs and supplement whereas they are in abundance in our flora,” he said.