Two years ago, TERRIFIC HEADLINES commenced a weekly public enlightenment activity on ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE and NIGERIA MADE PRODUCTS & SERVICES given our belief in the potency of these two important issues to socio-economic development. Regrettably, only God knows the number of knowledgeable Nigerians who have been buried with their expertise in Alternative Medicine due to illiteracy, ignorance and lack of an enabling environment to prove their knowledge.
Our patriotic instincts actually challenged us request for the kind permission of one of Nigeria’s great patriots, Rev. (Dr) Mike Oye, a specialist in Alternative Medicine who agreed to run a weekly column on our communication channels. Mike Oye, a Naturopath/Alternative Medicine practitioner points out that it is very possible to live healthy without drugs through good diets, discipline, and adequate appropriation of nature. He asserts that whatever is natural is always better for human consumption than the synthetic alternatives. Most of the herbs could be prepared from plants that abound in our natural environment.
As an Independent Alternative Medicine Practitioner and an experienced Christian Minister for over five decades, Dr. Mike Oye holds two Doctoral degrees in Agriculture and Naturopathy, and has a track record of effectively dealing with many chronic, physical, mental, and spiritual human disorders in a holistic way. His broad and comprehensive education and deep interest in the well-being of humankind are the basis for his practice. There are several Nigerians in the same class with 80-year old Mike Oye, who is still very agile at that age. A combination of Nigerian Alternative/Complementary medical practitioners could change the landscape of the health sub-sector in Nigeria through a Strategic Action Plan that must involve huge public enlightenment. Dr. Mike Oye relocated to the United States a few years ago and he is in very high demand in that country and even some parts of Africa.
THE ‘’WITCHES & WIZARDS’’ OF TIANAMEN SQUARE: The interest of this writer was fired by what he experienced in the Peoples’ Republic of China when he had a first-class experience of how China had moved rapidly to develop its alternative medicine to the fancy of the world. In company with a few other Nigerians, we visited the popular TIANANMEN SQUARE IN BEIJING, and subjected ourselves to diagnosis akin to general medical check-up by alternative medical practitioners, who with the ordinary specialized touch of each of the three vessels, through which blood runs through each wrist, diagnosed ailments perfectly. We were informed that each vein leads to, and services one organ each, in the human system. We were amazed by the accuracy of the diagnosis but decided to test the authenticity. The following day, two of us were told to repeat the visit for the same type of medical check-up at the same facility, for the purpose of ascertaining the genuineness of the results of our local Chinese medical examination. They met different medical practitioners who conducted tests and issued the same results! Some of us thought the physicians were probably wizards and witches imbued with spiritual powers. But we were very wrong.
That Beijing visit proved revealing about advancements made in Alternative Medicine. It is incredible that alternative medical practice and Western medicine in China are at the same level of development, which is one of the reasons why those herbal products are available in large quantities in Nigeria and other parts of the world.. But lack of assurances of intellectual property rights has forced many to go to their graves with huge knowledge. This is one area that the Federal Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has worked relentlessly to transform. As Minister of State for Health, Ehanire met with traditional medicine in Nigeria practitioners of the protection of their intellectual property rights for products that support government effort towards universal health coverage.
At the 16th edition of the African Traditional Medicine Day held last year, the Minister ‘’emphasized the need to promote and enhance local manufacturing of traditional medicines for better access to quality-assured medication’’ “Nigeria has over 8,000 plant species with potential benefits in ethno-medicine or ethno-pharmacy and that up to 70% of Nigerians use Traditional Medicine, either wholly, or in combined with modern drugs” The representative of traditional medicine practitioners in Nigeria revealed that there are a number of Nigerian traditional medicine products marketed and sold outside the country but are not in the database due to lack of specific regulation in practice.
MORE SOLID GROUDWORK TO BE DONE: It is highly remarkable that the Federal Ministry of Health has taken steps further to get the federal government of nod by way of recognizing the importance of traditional medicine for the development of the health sector. Dr Ehanire most recently disclosed government’s plans to integrate alternative/complementary studies into the curricula of health science students in the country and Africa. If that happens, Nigeria will be following suit the Chinese model. For instance, the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine is a state level key institution under the direct leadership of the State Education Commission. Dongzhimen hospital, an affiliate to Beijing University of Chinese Medicine has a clinical research base with special focus on stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, nephropathy and other illnesses.
Beijing Medicinal Botanic Garden is the Chinese herbal cultivation base of providing herbs for scientific research. There are over 600 kinds of medicinal plants in a 160- acre ground. The integration of Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine is generally practiced in some Chinese hospitals. Besides prescribing western medicine, doctors also make very good use of modern medical equipment in the process of diagnosis. This is the result of the implementation of policies of visioning and long range planning. We have highly qualified Nigerians here and abroad, who could perform similar feat.
INTEGRATION & LEARNING FROM THE CHINESE EXAMPLE:
Speaking at a forum organized for alternative medicine practitioners, Director-General of the National Foods & Drugs Administration & Control, NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye listed some of the problems hindering the development of traditional herbal medicine in Nigeria. These, she said, include the lack of proper documentation, lack of clinical trials, standardisation and validation among the custodians of the knowledge. She said the industry, if well researched, can serve as a means of income generation for the country and also compete with countries such as China and India “who have advanced in their traditional medicine practice. The country needs to focus on improving and developing its traditional herbal medicine as it can be a source of income for the country,” she said. “There is an inadequate level of research and low output of research herbal medicines. There are problem of collaboration and cooperation of practitioners with scientist and researchers. What is the use of having good knowledge of traditional medicine if you are going to die with it? There is also a low level of understanding the protection of inventions, we develop something, we quickly start selling and we lost the protection of the product. There are often no patent and within a year of getting to the market, if they don’t protect, it is free for all..
MEDICAL TOURISM & CAPITAL FLIGHT
If Nigeria could get it right, the future certainly holds bright prospects for the health sector. Official reports compiled as at 2014, indicated that 30,000 Nigerians spent $1 billion annually on medical tourism. The Report released by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority revealed that Nigeria would make huge gains if the affluent class had the will and determination to end the capital flight and invest the money back in the local economy. According to him, 60 per cent of the said amount is spent in four major areas of healthcare, namely: cardiology, orthopaedic, renal dialysis issues and cancer, saying those entrepreneurial opportunities abound in the field only for those who could seize the opportunity by redirecting the cash flow into the comatose local health sector.
Methodically, Traditional Nigerian Medicine must be deeply rooted in the hearts of the Nigerians; a phenomenon that has enabled China to develop its alternative medicine to such an extent that the nation has produced numerous professors in Alternative Medicine. Apart from conserving foreign exchange that would have gone into medical tourism, China is flooding the whole world with herbal drugs made from farm products in that country. For instance, the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine is a state level key institution under the direct leadership of the State Education Commission. Dongzhimen hospital, an affiliate to Beijing University of Chinese Medicine has a clinical research base with special focus on stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, nephropathy and other illnesses. Beijing Medicinal Botanic Garden is the Chinese herbal cultivation base of providing herbs for scientific research. There are over 600 kinds of medicinal plants in a 160- acre ground.
PATRIOTISM: We discovered that the integration of Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine is generally practiced in some Chinese hospitals. Besides prescribing Western medicine, doctors also make very good use of modern medical equipment in the process of diagnosis. One of the hospitals works with Shanghai Medical University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in a joint Masters’ Degree programme. In Nigeria, the Medical & Dental Council of Nigeria regulates the practice of Alternative Medicine in Nigeria. Practitioners must give satisfactory evidence of having received appropriate training in a recognized Alternative Medicine Training Institution for them to be licensed. Nigeria’s interest in exploring this area is evidenced by its participation in The World Health Organization Africa Region (WHO AFRO) officially designated date of August 31st of each year as Alternative Traditional Medicine Day. The WHO has campaigned to the world to recognize, respect, conduct research and partner with the system of African traditional medicine and traditional knowledge.
The Federal Minister of Science & Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu had two years ago pleaded for more funding for the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) Lagos, and the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) Abuja. Dr. Onu also revealed the intention of government to develop Nigerian herbal medicines for export. Onu noted that a situation where traditional medicine from Asian countries flooded Nigerian markets called for serious attention from government.
LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE: Nigeria is abundantly endowed with human and material resources that could sustain high and broad-based growth and development. More importantly, our country boasts of the highest pool of highly educated and trained manpower in Africa. This is in addition to our large population which offers the largest market for investors in Africa. These plans, no matter how beautiful they could be, would not materialize unless they are properly implemented in addition to conforming to the common aspirations of the citizenry. Governments need the citizenry; and vice-versa. Therefore, there is the need to sensitize Nigerians to support Government and to inculcate in them the spirit of patriotism that would eventually lead to their embracing the right attitudes and approaches to development. But leaders must show the way for advancements to be recorded, in a transformational manner. Governments must lead the way and guide the citizenry to adopt the best global practices.
CARRYING NIGERIANS ALONG: It would certainly be beneficial if all Nigerians at home and abroad join to promote Nigeria’s points of view on development and project the nation’s success stories. Happily, the federal government has adopted the policy of THE RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL, which makes it possible for Nigerian investors and our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to the accorded priority in participating in the economic development of the nation. Investing in Alternative/Complementary Medicine helps to conserve the nation’s foreign reserve with the attendant advantage of moving towards a self-dependent economy, increase employment opportunities and also increase domestic production, and ultimately, the standard of living of all Nigerians.
BREAKING AWAY FROM FOREIGN INFLUENCE: It is very important to devise a policy of visioning and long range planning to implement this laudable project being pushed by Dr. Ehanire. A Nigerian expert in Mass Communications, late Prof. Alfred Opubor argued that: “Africa has been the victim of other peoples’ information domination. ‘’Historically, Africa’s image in the world has been largely managed by non-African interests and institutions. ‘’Those who had the means to create powerful channels to disseminate information widely, had pre-empted the definition of what was good, what was right, what was important, and what was civilized. In general, even the achievements in science, in art and culture that were African in origin or inspiration, were often attributed to others, because their provenance was obscured in Africa’s inability to proclaim its stake. ‘’Through literature, visual arts, the mass media, and popular culture, the agenda of world discourse has been hijacked by other cultures and peoples for a long time.’’
May the Good Lord Bless Nigeria.
PROMOTING NIGERIA MADE PRODUCTS & THE SPIRIT OF PATRIOTISM THE NEED FOR ATTITUDINAL CHANGES ON THE PART OF NIGERIA
By all measurable standards, Nigeria is a great country that is abundantly endowed with human and material resources that could sustain high and broad-based growth and development. The most populous black nation in the world is the biggest economy in Africa, whose economy constitutes 76 per cent of the economy of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. Nigeria also holds 30 per cent of the economy in sub-Saharan Africa, and 21 per cent of Africas economy. As at 2014, it was ranked 26th in the world in terms of GDP, and aims to become one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. From all indications, Nigeria can be greater that it is at the moment with the cooperation of the government and the governed. Some of the ingredients required, apart from good governance are the can-do-it spirit, patriotism and a collective resolve to make Nigeria great by Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora.
Our country boasts of the highest pool of highly educated and trained manpower in Africa. This is in addition to our large population which offers the largest market for investors in Africa. Let us first discuss the potentials of Nigeria, starting with notable inventors. Late Prof. Ayodele Awojobi, a genius in the field of Mechanical Engineering invented a motor vehicle that had steering wheels at both the front and back and could be controlled at both ends. Philip Emeagwali lives in the United States and is recognized worldwide and has been voted Father of Super-computing According to reports, he is ranked No:1 in computing, and graded first by Google for contribution to the development of the computer. Sometime ago, fellow Nigerians attempted to bring him down! Bart Nnaji, a professor and former Minister of the Federal Republic holds a Doctorate in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the United States. He is reputed to be one of the innovators of the E-design concept. Mohamed Bah Abba developed the Pot-in-Pot Preservation Cooling System in the 1990s. He received the Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2001, and used his US$75,000 award to make the invention available throughout Nigeria. I am yet to sight any of the products that could be used in the rural areas in any of our stores.
Rtd Brig-Gen Oviemo Ovadje, as medical doctor and a soldier, was declared the Best African Scientist in 1995 before African Heads of States, when he won the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Gold Medal for scientific work designed to save women who usually die from abnormal pregnancy called Ectopic Gestation. Prof. Gabriel Oyibo sponsored research and made several contributions in aircraft design, aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, mathematics and taught several courses in the United States. Saheed Adepoju is the Co-founder of Encipher Limited, a Nigerian-based technology company that introduced the first android-powered tablet into Nigeria. Seyi Oyesola, a medical doctor is credited with co-invention of Compact or the Hospital in a Box, a solar-powered life-saving operating room which can be transported to remote areas of Africa and set up within minutes. Jelani Aliyu General Motors leading auto brand, Chevrolet Volt.
Another United States based Nigerian, Cyprian Emeka Uzoh holds more than 126 United States issued patents and over 160 patents worldwide in semi-conductor technology including U.S. Patent No. 6709562, method of making electroplated inter-connection structures on integrated circuit chips, which earned him the inventor of the year award in 2006 from the New York Intellectual Property Association. Shehu Saleh Balami is the designer of a solid-fuel rocket. And has been able to build his first rocket which he later modified in 2011. The solid-fuel rocket was produced under the auspices of the Movement for the Propagation of Science and Technology in Nigeria. Yemi Adesokan, a Nigerian born and United States-based founder of Pathogenica Inc. Medical experts are of the view that his innovation may bring an end to the problem of drug resistance in the world, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Aloysius Anaebonam, a Georgia States based scientist holds about 12 United States patents in pharmacy. Brino Gilbert is the inventor of the Counter Collision Gadget (CCG), a device that has the capacity to prevent accidents on the road, air, sea and rail. He spent 10 years seeking government attention for his research and approached several groups and individuals for sponsorship. His vision is to make CCG exportable to many countries of the world.