By Chioma Obinna
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, lambasted the Federal government over its decision to import Madagascar herbal concoction, COVID Organics, CVO, saying it is ‘distasteful for a country that should be the leader of Africa to go this low.”
In a press statement signed by the National President of PSN, Pharm. Sam Ohuabunwa said while in principle they would not mind the government importing any new drug that is proven to cure COVID-19 or any other disease which Nigerian has no capacity or technology to produce locally, they are totally appalled that the country would spend scarce foreign exchange to import what he described as “‘coal into Newcastle’.
“Even if we are not going to pay for this, it is thoroughly disgraceful that a country that should be the leader of Africa, with the largest GDP will allow itself to be dragged this low.
Noting that Nigeria has about 174 Universities (43 Federal, 52 State and 79 private), 20 Faculties of Pharmacy and about 69 Federal-Funded Research Institutes, he said Madagascar has only six Universities, one Faculty of Pharmacy and 9 Research Centres.
Ohuabunwa who further argued that the country has some of the best scientists in the world said Nigeria has developed a pharmacopoeia of natural and herbal products with one of the richest flora and fauna – potent sources of phytomedicines.
The President of PSN pointed out that since the outbreak of the COVID-19, a number of scientists and many herbal companies have raised their voices that they have herbal and natural products that can be used to treat or manage COVID-19 the federal government has failed to review these claims.
“We have raised our voices severally that the Federal government should review these claims and help put them through clinical evaluation as most of these producers cannot afford to conduct clinical trials. We have recommended that a portion of the nearly 25 Billion Naira donated/allocated for the COVID-19 pandemic should be dedicated for local research and development. But our Government has remained essentially silent only waiting to participate in WHO sponsored or mandated trials. We have been told that Nigeria is participating in the WHO solidarity trial, but nothing on trying our own inventions and formulations.”
They queried why the country wants to import COVID Organics from Madagascar for a try.
“Why are we like this? If the world can supply us synthetic and chemically-sophisticated medicines which we apparently lack the technology to produce, why must we wait for the World to supply us herbal formulations which we can easily make and which we have similar products, “they queried.
Continuing, they urged the Government to save Nigerian Pharmaceutical Scientists and other scientists from the shame of having the country import and try herbal remedies which God has given the country in abundance.
“Let us try our own local formulations before we try COVID Organics or any other imported remedy. Every well-meaning nation has been in a race to find cures, remedies and other medical supplies used for COVID-19, while we seem to wait for other nations to solve our problems.
“There is much talk but little action. This dependency mentality needs to change and now is the time. We must seize this opportunity to look inwards, build confidence in our abilities, competences and re-orientate our national economic philosophy from import dependency to export-driven. And Nigeria can beat India and China in the production and export of herbal products if anyone is willing to lead us down this part,” they stated.