The Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora has said only three out of the numerous claims of local remedies for the pandemic have been approved for further analysis.
He disclosed that the three claims have now been forwarded to NAFDAC and Pharmaceutical Institute of Research and Development (NIPRD) for further evaluation.
Speaking at the media briefing by PTF, the minister said the federal government would be strict and meticulous to ensure that all necessary scientific processes were adhered to before certifying any drug for use by Nigerians.
He said Nigeria has been part of the global efforts to find a cure for the disease, adding that the Federal Ministry of Health team recently held a virtual meeting with traditional, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners to discuss and explore opportunities for local solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the ministry had received a few proposals for local remedies for the disease, out of which three have been forwarded to the relevant agencies for evaluation.
“For a preparation to be approved for use in Nigeria, it must be subjected to safety, toxicological and efficacy tests as well as clinical trials,” he said.
Mamora said the meeting with traditional doctors provided an opportunity for the practitioners to understand the procedures for validating medicines for use in the country.
He addeed that 19 traditional and herbal groups that attended the meeting sought the assistance of, and collaboration with the government to facilitate the process of evaluation and eventual production of their herbal regiment.
The minister said one of the major findings during the interface with the traditional medicine practitioners was that they were having issues with the process of getting listed with NAFDAC.
According to him, the claimants were also concerned about protecting their intellectual property, and getting government funding to facilitate commercial production of the remedy.
The minister said there was also the challenge of getting volunteers for clinical trials on the herbal remedies when eventually they scale through the evaluation.
He noted that the federal government was concerned about the increasing number of confirmed cases, adding that the very high cases could seriously exceed the capacity of the country’s health system.
“At present, we have a total of 112 treatment and isolation centres in all the 36 states and FCT with 5,324 beds. While only five states including the FCT have at least 300 beds as prescribed for isolation and treatment, 21 states have less than 100-bed spaces,” he said.
Mamora also explained that NIMR in collaboration with other institutes in the country was able to generate the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 which showed similarities with the virus traits in Wuhan, China.
While making his presentation at yesterday’s briefing, NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said there was a new finding on the nature of coronavirus, which indicated that the lifespan of the virus is not beyond 10 or at most 14 days contrary to previous belief.
“What has emerged over the last few days was that the detection of fragments of this virus doesn’t in itself mean that there is an active virus over time so studies have now shown that the longest viability timeframe for the virus is now 10 days,” he said.