The Federal Government has been urged to ensure adequate legislation to encourage the production of medicines from local plants.
Making this call at the recent University of Abuja 24th inaugural lecture titled, ‘Ethnopharmacology in the Triangle of Man, Animal and Disease’, a Toxology Professor, Olatunde Peter Ajagbonna, said such piece of legislation would assist to stem the spate of failing synthetic drugs in the country.
He said that global attention is now focused on medicinal benefits of these plants, adding, “There is a huge market for it which other countries are already making huge amounts of money from.
“It is something we can leverage on for sustainable development because other global markets are in tune of almost $90-$100 billion, and rising to $5 trillion.
”Whereas Nigeria is the hot spot, we are not matching our word with action. It is a huge market and, especially as we are talking diversification, we should be able to look at this area.”
Ajagbonna lamented that Nigerians are dying in their 30s and 40s despite available synthetic drugs, adding that toxism is on the rise with its unbearable consequences, yet the various natural medicinal plants that the country has been blessed with is being flagrantly neglected.
“We have plants we can leverage on for almost all diseases of man and animal. These plants medicine is cheap, easily accessible and is tolerable to most of us in this clime”
The university don also emphasised on the need for the improvement of research and development, as well as regular capacity building for scientists in the country.
According to him, “Many of us have gone outside the country and we could see most of the work we have done. We have done much work, but have not been able to take it to drug development due to the lack of infrastructure.
“In all around the country of India, you will see state-of-the art facilities established by the Indian government. In our country today; CESCO, NAPRI boast of themselves; and government is spending huge money on these and so must wake up to proper legislation and regulation.”
“We need to wake up to develop these plants and be in the same state with China and India who are the two key players in this area,” he stressed.
Ajagbonna, a foundation staff of the Veterinary Department of the Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, was appointed the first Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology in 2003.