Final Note Address & Assigning of Tasks, By The Honourable Minister of State, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora At The Virtual Meeting With Traditional & Herbal Medicine Practitioners
Expression of appreciation for attendance:
“This is the first of its kind; it’s virtual like this. I appreciate all of you for finding time to be a part of this landmark event. We couldn’t have done it all alone without bringing you on board. I don’t want to start mentioning names, because they are too many people, too many names that are on this; if I had to mention them one by one. But in so doing I will not fail to acknowledge the President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, my good friend Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa; thank you very much for being part of this, and of course bringing you on board has taken on board all the Pharmacists in the country and of course, the Heads of our Agencies”;
NAFDAC Director General to do the stepwise requirement for product listing:
“Well, Prof. Adeyeye (DG, NAFDAC), Well, I gave you an assignment at the commencement of this programme, so what you need to do for us is to do the stepwise requirement which I asked for at the beginning of this programme to get listed, because that process of listing is the first step, and of course my understanding is that yours is to determine: Is this remedy or product fit for human consumption? And that is the starting point. And once we are able to establish the fitness of a remedy or product for human consumption, that is the first thing and every other steps is consequent upon that, and please we want you to do that and send to the Ministry as quickly as possible so that we can share this with all practitioners and they get to know what to do and how to go about it in that stepwise approach to requirements.”
Chairman of the Ethics Committee should state what Practitioners need to do:
“Again, I have given to the Chairman of the Ethics Committee as well, which is also very important in terms of what these Practitioners need to do. Please let us have that stepwise procedure or requirement for clinical trials. That is also very important, please let us have this quickly so that we can also send it to the herbal practitioners on the field.
Of course I was talking about our Heads of Agencies, I have spoken about the DG, NAFDAC, Prof. Adeyeye and of course, the DG, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Prof. Salako, thank you very much and it was quite heart-warming to know that you are already working in collaboration as it were with some of these Practitioners, to get things done; and of course the DG of National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRID), who could not be with us; we appreciate that he sent in a representative. We also know what you want to do, what you can do and what you will do with your sister Agencies and even with the Ministry so that we can take this process forward.
Prof. Ilujoba; I cannot expect less from you because you have been there for so long and you continue to give us your wealth of experience which we still need, even though you told us that you will soon retire. Even in retirement, we will still call you so that we can continue to benefit from your wealth of experience.
Same goes with others, like I said earlier, I cannot continue to mention names one by one.”
Appreciation to the Directors in the Ministry:
“And of course, the Directors in the Ministry; Zainab, I call her “General” Zainab, because she has a way of wanting to push things through; Director of Food and Drugs in the Ministry, Mrs. Moshood O. Lawal and of course other colleagues within and out there, I cannot thank you enough for this experience. We are going to take this thing further, no doubt about that; but having said that, we have listened to the challenges and of course, in the course of discussions and deliberations, we have also been able to get some way forward.
And of course the first thing is this, getting products listed and the way to fast track. This is what the DG, NAFDAC will let us know, how best to fast track in as much way as possible.”
On the non-disclosure arrangement, protection of intellectual property rights:
“The No 2 thing to know is the non-disclosure arrangement; I’m just using the clause as it was used by Prof. Ilujoba, and this is vis-à-vis protection of intellectual property rights, which is very key, because that is one major thing that tends to make our practitioners shy away, nobody wants to use his knowledge, experience and exposure to put into a product that could help in a situation that has to do with remedy and all that, only for somebody else to go behind, get that product and fraudulently parade himself/herself as the originator of that product; so this is very key and we will do everything possible to ensure that we protect these intellectual property rights of practitioners. So we will work on that to ensure that we have mutual confidence in terms of protection of the property right.”
On the funding requirement to forge ahead with clinical trials of products/remedies:
“The 3rd thing is funding; funding is a major thing in everything. So we will develop from listing and I want to thank practitioners who have been able to on their own, submit their products for listing because even that takes some funds to do. So we will continue to assist them in the best way we can, particularly when we are reasonably convinced that these are genuine products that we must support.”
Clinical trials of products/remedies require volunteers:
“And of course, the issue of clinical trials; and I think for me, one thing I need to emphasize at this stage with respect to clinical trial is the issue of volunteers.
You cannot do clinical trial, just on anybody. There have to be volunteers, I mean, that is the international best practice. There have to be volunteers; people coming forward on their own and of course signing to an agreement or commitment, so we need to let our practitioners know.
We heard Prof. Salako say that, well, if it is animal trials, whatever happens that can still be managed; but you cannot just go through clinical trials with human beings without having certain things cleared off. Even when you have done those things that are necessary by way of ethics, and all that, you still need volunteers, these people have to volunteer until and unless you are sure that you don’t have outcomes or negative side effects on these patients, you cannot just push it out there.”
The firmament is big enough for birds to fly without any collision. We need to collaborate:
“The other thing I need to say with the outcome of this engagement is the need to incorporate traditional, complementary and alternative medicine into the western medicine that we practice, so that the two can exist side by side and with a form of collaboration. I know the Yoruba people used to say that the firmament is big enough for birds to fly without any collision. So in the same way, whatever will be beneficial to the society and humanity should be such that we shouldn’t have any friction. I believe very strongly that the two can co-exist side by side for the good of us all.”
For the good of Nigeria, and humanity, this won’t be the last:
“Having said that, one other thing that I don’t want to miss out in all of these is an appeal to all and sundry that please, I can assure you that from our end here, this will not be the last of our engagement, it should be a continuous one so that at the end of the day, we will be able to say that we are making progress in giving not just to Nigerian our country, but to humanity in general. So it’s on that note that I want to thank all of you for being part of this and I hope to see you again. Thank you very much!”