COVID-19 Stirs Alternative Medicine Response

COVID-19 Stirs Alternative Medicine Response
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George Emine and Genevive Okafor-Nwachukwu

On Tuesday December 5, Director, Traditional Medicine Department, FMoH, Mrs. Pharm. Zainab Shariff, disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Health, FMoH, was taking steps to promote Complementary and Alternative Medicine, CAM, in Nigeria.


Sheriff said that the National Council on Health, NCH, had approved the establishment of traditional medicine departments in the 36 state ministries of health and the FCT, and that the measure would promote CAM practice in the country, and that the 32 practitioners of CAM had been registered and licensed with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria as recognised by law. She said such practitioners were registered as Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Osteopathy, Acupuncture, and Chiropractic.

She explained further that the ministry established a Federal College of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, FEDCAM, in 2009, which was closed by the National Universities Commission, NUC, in 2010 due to non-adherence to regulations, but the Federal Government was reorganising FEDCAM in collaboration with the University of Benin for the establishment of CAM institute.

Pharm. Shariff revealed that there was a collaboration with India and China to train FMoH staff in the field, to equip them with the requisite knowledge to practice, and that the government is also proposing to set up CAM clinics to make available the services to Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the public.

“We are collaborating with West Africa Health Organisation to provide technical support for training and scientific sessions between orthodox practitioners and Traditional Medicine Practitioners,” she said, noting that FMoH recognised the slow pace of development in CAM practice in the country and that the procedure was through the recognition of highly trained CAM practitioners to deliver services in the country.

Despite all these steps, which Mrs. Shariff revealed were supported by several corporate and private establishments involved in the development of CAM in the country, Nigeria is yet to record successes in government’s support for alternative medicine.

Since the Federal Ministry of Health confirmed the presence of coronavirus, COVID-19 disease in Lagos State on February 27, several Nigerians have come up with claims of having a cure for the disease.  Even though the ministry of health acknowledged the receipt of these claims, the clinical trials are yet to be done to prove the efficacy or otherwise of these drugs.

Meanwhile, even as the world was working hard to get a cure for the deadly COVID-19, a Nigerian researcher claimed to have found the cure for the disease, and has been curing patients who come to him for treatment. Ben Amodu, the lead researcher at Alamin Herbal Products, a pharmacist who retired from service with the Federal Ministry of Health has been using alternative medicine to cure diseases. “I have said it times without number that I have a cure for COVID-19, and I have cured everyone who has come to me, as you can see from these two results,” he said.

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In the result of patient,  ‘A’ (not real name, and sighted by this reporter), the patient tested positive at CLINA-LANCET Laboratory, Lagos on July 7 and immediately contacted Alamin for treatment and by August 20, he tested negative when his result was out at the Lagos State BIOBANK and result signed by Dr M, A. Bankole.

Ben Amodu who has been curing patients both in Nigeria and several other countries said of his renowned antimalarial drug: “In one of the panoramas on national television, I told them that I was going to modify one of my products called SAAB, to treat and cure Malaria. To live up to that expectation, I went ahead and did my local research, and today I have a one-day cure for Malaria, SAABMAL.

“It is also a cure for typhoid. Not only that, it is an adjuvant in the treatment of cancer, sickle cell, arthritis and other diseases. When we did the research and it was successful, we sent our publication to a United States based publisher and this publisher without talking to us, leaked to the World Health Organisation, WHO, that there is a Nigerian who has developed a one-day cure for malaria.

“WHO instantly became interested, obtained our abstract from the publisher, reviewed the abstract, approved of it and sponsored four of us to the United Nations, UN, to present this discovery. The entire presentation was reported and broadcasted on National television.

“After broadcasting the discovery made by a Nigerian on national television, no government official called me, the president of the country, the minister and the permanent secretary. Yet, that time, Nigeria went to China to obtain artemisinin annua, a Chinese plant that has properties for the treatment of plasmodium falciparum; which is the main causative agent of malaria.

“Land clearing alone by Nigerian government in preparation for the plant totalled N3.6 billion. Whereas, I sat down here, did local research and discovered a material that can eradicate plasmodium falciparum from the human system at 97%.

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“The Indian journal of medical research, which is over 140-years-old, published my discovery of SAABMAAL. But, Nigeria cannot stand up in the comity of nations to say that this is what our own person has discovered, even after it has got to this level, rather they pretend like nothing has happened”.

The International Organization of Scientific Research, IOSR, an independent private organization which provides support and services to education, and which has editors from over 90 countries, in its Series 6 (May 2020) published his claims under the title: Using African alternative medicine to curb Covid-19: A case study of SAAAB, SAABFAT6, and SAABMAL HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS.” His claims on COVID-19 is still awaiting clinical trials by the ministry of health even though he sent his claims to the authorities even before Nigeria recorded its index case eighth months ago, but he has cured several patients who came to him for treatment.

Other researchers have also claimed to have developed a cure for the disease. One of them is the former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu. The Professor of Pharmacognosy, in March revealed that he has identified a possible treatment of the virus adding that COVID-19 was among the neglected tropical emergent diseases his research group has been studying for years.

Iwu who made the disclosure while briefing the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora and the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Barrister Mohammed Abdullahi, stated that the US Government has reached out to him to take the discovered compound and test it against the COVID-19 virus.

“We have selected to focus on neglected tropical emergent diseases such as Leishmaniasis, Ebola virus, Dengue fever virus, Chikungunya virus, Coronavirus, and Tacaribe virus,” he had said.

Iwu, who heads a bio-science institute continued; “When the Ebola virus broke out in 2014, many Nigerians were surprised that we had an experimental lead compound that we identified in 1999. Now, with the emergence of a novel coronavirus in 2019 as COVID-19, we have identified and patented a possible treatment back in 2015, it is very important that we must remain ahead of these emergent infections through research.

Apart from Professor Iwu and his team, Pax Herbal Clinic and Research Laboratory, a Nigerian alternative medicine product manufacturing company had also claimed to be working on a drug which could treat the virus. In an advertorial to the public titled: “An official statement by Pax herbal on the treatment of COVID-19”, the company stated that its Pax herbal Clinic has developed a new drug called: PAX CVD PLUS for the treatment of COVID-19, and that the laboratory is working with NAFDAC to speed up approval for the use of the drugs.

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Many more Nigerians have come up with claims of drugs to cure the virus. Stakeholders in the sector had called on the federal government to look into their claims and find out if anyone of them could have a cure for the virus.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, while speaking on the issue, however said all herbal medicines must go through the research cycle to ensure they are not toxic. “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 solutions 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 heartwarming to note that the Department of TCAM has taken the pains to research 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 a 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 Adansonia digitata (baobab fruit). The innovation here is the composition of the formulation. These medicinal plants have documented scientific evidence of long use for the management of cough and other respiratory infections, with medicinal properties of mucoIytic, antitussive, expectorant, soothing, demulcent, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects,” he said.

He added that the ministry is determined to walk the talk in the promotion and integration of herbal medicine into the health care delivery system. Nigerians however await the clinical trials to be concluded so that Nigeria can take its place in the Comity of Nations, especially as the WHO has long stated that plants do actually have medicinal properties that can and should be taped.


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