The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, made this known on Thursday at Adavieba community in Adavi Local Government of Kogi when he visited renowned traditional medicine practitioner, Pa Aliyu Giwa.
Onu said a situation where traditional medicine from Asian countries flooded Nigerian markets called for serious attention from government, saying there was need to look inward to develop local herbs for export.
He added that “we are tired of importing everything we need from outside; the time has come for us to look inward and see how we can export our traditional medicines.”
According to him, many diseases that appear incurable through orthodox medicine can be cured with herbal medicines.
He said that he decided to visit Pa Giwa because of the respect the ministry had for him, describing Giwa as herbal practitioner who distinguished himself in the area of prostate cancer and other ailments.
The minister explained that the Federal Government would collaborate with Giwa through Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency to enable other Nigerians to benefit from his knowledge.
Onu said that the Federal Ministry of Health had agreed to be part of the effort, noting that the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPPRI) would be involved in the process of developing the medicines for use locally and abroad.
Pa Giwa, a 90-year-old traditional medicine practitioner specialises in the treatment of prostate cancer, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, rheumatism, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and other ailments using local herbs.
The minister said government would expand Giwa’s clinic by building for him a four-bedroom flat to enable him to accommodate more patients and also provide him with a vehicle to enhance mobility.
Giwa, while welcoming the minister and his entourage to his house, told his visitors that traditional medicine started from his grandfather who imparted the knowledge on his father who in turn transferred the knowledge to him.
He said he had treated many Nigerians from different parts of the country and expressed his readiness to continue to offer his services to people as long as God spared his life.
Giwa also thanked the minister for deciding to expand his clinic and give him a vehicle, saying the gestures would go a long way to assist him in his work.
One of his patients, Nze Stephen Ibeneme, who said he had been battling with prostate cancer since 2008, said “I was healed within three days by Pa Giwa.”
Ibeneme, a traditional ruler, appealed to Federal Government to assist Pa Giwa “so that other Nigerians can benefit from his traditional medicine.”
The Director-General of NIPPRI, Prof. Karniyusus Gammaniel, who represented the Federal Ministry of Health during the visit, said there was no conflict between traditional and orthodox medicine.
He expressed the readiness of Ministry of Health to partner with Ministry of Science and Technology to develop herbal medicine in line with the wish of Federal Government.
The science and technology minister also paid courtesy visit to Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Dr Ado Ibrahim and the Power Equipment Infrastructure Development Agency in Okene.
On the minister’s entourage were top government officials, including the Director-General of Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency, Mr Sam Etatuvie.
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Dr Gilbert Ezengige is a licensed natural medicine practitioner, lecturer and writer on health and social issues.