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Nigeria moves to find COVID-19 cure

The Federal Government said it has continued to evaluate claims by local researchers to the effect that they had manufactured curative drugs for Covid-19.

It also explained that having met preliminary requirements, the drugs have been forwarded to the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC for ‘Listing’.

This came as government again expressed worries over the continued repatriation of Almajiris by states, saying the development could fuel a spike in infections.

This was disclosed Thursday in Abuja during the daily briefing of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on Covid-19

On compliance with general safety protocols put in place against the Covid-19, the federal government asked security agencies not to cut corners, adding that they would only be tarnishing the image of their organization by doing that.

It urged Nigerians to alert the government whenever they witness cases of infractions by security operatives enforcing the partial lockdown.

Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha said local cure claims have now been forwarded to NAFDAC for listing, having met with preliminary requirements.

He said; “For some time now, there have been claims of inventions and cures related to COVID-19. The PTF, as part of its mandate, remains supportive of and receptive to outcomes of research. It, however, finds it imperative to reiterate its position on the need for such discoveries to undergo the scientific validation processes. The PTF is aware that the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department, of the Federal Ministry of Health, has been evaluating such claims and forwarded some that have met the preliminary requirements to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control NAFDAC to carry out the necessary procedures for listing”.

Also, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said his ministry had just finished a meeting with the Ministry of Science and Technology, “at which their Agencies demonstrated impressive innovative capabilities to participate in finding solutions to our problems of shortages”.

“We are convinced that Nigeria has the potential to manufacture many of the commodities we presently import, which presently high global demand also make difficult to come by”, he added.

The ministry had earlier written to NAFDAC on the “formulation of a phytomedicine based cough mixture/syrup” for the management of Covid-19.

In the letter, the ministry noted that Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which could be exploited and expressed happiness that its Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department TCAM has taken the pains to research into scientific materials to come up with a formulation intended for the management of cough in COVID-19 and other cough related infections.

The letter signed by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, A.M Abdullahi reads;

“This is to convey my compliments to you. As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is currently ravaging the world with no definite treatment or vaccine. This has necessitated countries to look for solution from within and Nigeria is no exception. It is worthy to note that Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which could be exploited.

“It is heart-warming to note that the Department of TCAM has taken the pains to research into scientific materials to come up with a formulation intended for the management of cough in COVID-19 and other cough related infections.

“The formulation is Cov-herbal cough mixture. Interestingly, all the ingredients that make up the formulations are medicinal plants that are widely used as food materials and medicines. They include: Allium sativa (Garlic); Allium cepa (Onions); Zingiber officinale (Ginger); Piper guineense (West African Black Pepper); and Andasonia digitata (Baobab fruit). The innovation here is the composition of the formulation.

“These medicinal plants have documented scientific evidences of long use for the management of cough and other respiratory infections, with medicinal properties of mucolytic, antitussive, expectorant, soothing, demulcent, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects.

“The Ministry is determined to walk-the-talk in the promotion and integration of herbal medicine into the health care delivery system. In view of the foregoing and the desire of the Ministry to showcase to the public, a product that is 100% sourced locally, you are requested to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.

“The Ministry will contract the packaging of the product to some identified pharmaceutical companies. Find attached scientific evidences of the products and labelling for your information and necessary action.

The SGF also expressed displeasure at the continued non-compliance with safety measures put in place by the government.

According to him; “Reports from various parts of the country at the close of day yesterday 6th May 2020 indicate the following:

“High level of non-compliance with the ban on inter-state travels. This resulted in a high number of vehicles finding their way across many state borders despite the curfew/ border restrictions; Lack of respect for timing and the curfew also resulted in heavy traffic gridlock where many motorists spent the night following the enforcement of the curfew;

“Increasing level of abuse of exemption granted to vehicles conveying specified goods. Reports across the country show that they continue to hide passengers with the intention of ferrying them across state boundaries; and

“Continual transportation of Almajiris across state borders is still evident. I have highlighted the foregoing as it relates to the road transportation sector to underscore the dangers inherent in the seeding of the virus across states. I, however, commend the security agencies for their vigilance in apprehending and prosecuting violators.

It is, worrisome, however, to note reports received about isolated cases of compromise by some security operatives. We urge the various commands of the security agencies to enhance their monitoring machinery to ensure that we do not only achieve the objective of stopping the spread of the virus but also prevent the good name of the services from being tarnished.

“We also implore all Nigerians to alert the security agencies whenever they witness the violation of these guidelines.

“The PTF has become aware of a number of challenges associated with management of the isolation centres. These have manifested in the form of protests over welfare, abscondment from centres and loud complaints based on the assumption by persons under observation, that drugs must be administered.

“The first two are unhealthy developments capable of undermining the containment measures and putting the lives of care managers and frontline workers at risk. Similarly, persons in isolation are encouraged to follow the direction and instructions of the experts during their stay as treatment to be administered would largely depend on the evaluation of the doctor. We, however, urge all State Governments to continue to pay attention to the welfare of people in isolation and for security agencies to provide adequate security around such facilities to prevent escape”.

On Kogi, the Health Minister said a Ministerial team including officials of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control NCDC and Department of Hospital Services of the Ministry of Health are already in the state.

“They will ensure that the state has adequate testing capacity and shall also advocate for the engagement of traditional rulers and community leaders in surveillance efforts of the State. I appreciate the collaboration promised by His Excellency the Governor of Kogi. A similar team will also travel to Cross River State for the same purpose”, he stated.

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Written by Vivian Ifezue

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