The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olororunnimbe Mamora has frowned at the manner in which Africans have always relied on the approval of International Organizations when proffering solutions to their health challenges and as such, reiterated the need to develop home-grown solutions to such challenges.
Dr. Mamora assumed this position Wednesday, 23rd September, 2020 when he received in audience, the Representative of Bioresources Development Group (BDG), Professor Maurice Iwu, who said the purpose of his visit was to brief the Honourable Minister about an alternative or African treatment for COVID-19, which his Group has been developing and to seek his support to have the Federal Government key into the project with the aim of giving it a national outlook.
Expressing concern at the position of Africa as a Continent in terms of finding solutions to health challenges, the Honourable Minister said “What are we getting for ourselves, and I always say that no one can free us than ourselves. We are in the best position to free ourselves.”
Professor Iwu had earlier made a presentation to the Honourable Minister where he revealed that BDG has initiated another project to clinically evaluate a high-dose formulation of Artemisinin Phytomedicine as an effective agent in the treatment of COVID-19. He said the product is currently undergoing clinical trials at the University of Lagos and has got approval from four ethical bodies: the Pan African Clinical Trials Registry, the National Health Research Ethics Committee of Nigeria (NHREC), University of Lagos and NAFDAC.
The Professor drew attention to the fact that, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a claim by Madagascar that it had developed a treatment for COVID-19 based on the anti-malaria herb -Artemisia annua. “However, the initial activity reported for the product could not be sustained by subsequent empirical observations.”
The product, he said was also evaluated here in Nigeria and the results were not encouraging. “These reports are at variance with the laboratory findings on pure Artemisinin and the phytomedicine containing about 90% of the compound against SARS CoV-2”, he said.
Professor Iwu informed that the interest of the Group in re-evaluating Artemisinin was based on the observation that because malaria is endemic in Nigeria most people with high fever take the so called Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) even before diagnosis or laboratory tests and so it is possible that the low fatality rates in Nigeria and most malaria endemic countries in Africa, Asia and South America may be due (in part) to the fact that people self-medicate (with ACT drugs) for malaria before they subject themselves to be tested for SARS CoV-2.
The Professor requested for the Federal Government to key into the project because of the immense public health implications and the positive social impact that the outcome of his project could have on the treatment of COVID-19 and future management of SARS CoV-2 in Nigeria.
He sought a FMOH team to look into the clinical trials, developing this product in Nigeria, using local facilities so that when we come in we will be able to supply the product, we will be able to bring out the finance that will be able to pay for the trial itself so it will be a Nigerian thing and at the end of the day, it will help us in managing our COVID-19.
Commenting on the presentation the Honourable Minister stated that he has always been an advocate of home-grown solutions to our health issues. The Honourable Minister of State for Health later promised the visiting Professor Iwu that the Ministry will constitute a team to look in-depth at his proposal and revert as soon as possible.
At the occasion to support the Honourable Minister of State for Health to interrogate Professor Iwu’s presentation was the team of the Director-General, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Adigwe; the Director, Hospital Services, FMOH, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi mni; the Director, Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) Pharmacist Zainab Sherrif; as well as representatives of Food and Drugs Department of the Federal Ministry of Health.
By Blessing Egbo.