Following global trends in the use and demand for herbal and traditional medicines, which has huge market and wealth creation potentials, the Federal Ministry of Health has inaugurated a 16-man expert committee for the review of the first edition of the Nigeria Herbal Pharmacopoeia.
The inauguration, which was conducted recently in Abuja, was well attended by stakeholders in the sub-sector.
Addressing participants at the event, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Clement Uwaifo identified the rich natural plants available in the country, saying Nigeria was blessed with vast bio-diversity of different medicinal herbal species, many of which had remained untapped.
To enhance effective utilization of these medicinal plants, the Permanent Secretary said it is imperative to scientifically organise information and documentation on useful medicinal herbs which were found efficacious in the management and treatment of several ailments in Nigeria.
Recalling efforts made to produce the first edition of the Nigeria Herbal Pharmacopoeia published in 2008, with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which contained 42 commonly used medicinal plants in Nigeria.
He noted that twenty two (22) of the cultivated plants were indigenous to Nigeria, 18 were introduced into Nigeria from other countries, while only two were not grown in appreciable quantities in the country and as such predominantly imported.
He therefore charged members of the committee to put in their expertise and explore more herbal medicinal plants not captured in the first edition.
He also advised the committee to take a cue from countries with various editions of Herbal Pharmacopoeia such as, Ghana and India to update and adopt plants with similar agronomical proportion with a view of coming up with a second edition.
Responding on behalf of the other members of the committee, the acting Chairman, Professor Tony Elujoba, who represented the chairm, Professor Maurice Iwu, who was unavoidly absent at the occasion, said that the Herbal Pharmacopoeia represented the official documentation of medicinal plants, their values and standardization of quality and quantity.
The document, according to Elujoba, was also to serve as a guide to herbal production, quantity control and assurance, so that people who used herbal medicinal products would be sure of their efficacy and safety standard.
He further appealed to the Federal Ministry of Health to advocate the introduction of school Herbal medicine in Nigerian Universities so that students could pursue a carreer in such field of study as counterparts of orthodox Medical doctors.
Describing herbal medicine as the most readily agreeable non-oil revenue generating heritage, Elujoba said the document could be used to register herbal medicine by NIPRID, SON and other related regulatory agencies.