The Federal Government of Nigeria has renewed its promise to support the local production of essential medicines in line with the National Drug Policy (NDP) 2004. Vanguard reports that Mrs Karima Babangida, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) spoke on it during a stakeholders’ meeting.
The meeting was held in Enugu with the theme, “Production and Commercialisation of Artemisia Annua for Income Generation, Job Creation, Food and Health Benefits”. Mrs. Omotosho Agbani, the Deputy Director, Horticulture, FMARD, represented the director in the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together critical stakeholders in the Artemisia value chain to discuss their challenges and stimulate the growth of the industry.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Artemisia Annua, native to China, is prominent because of its compound called Artemisinin found in the plant biomass. The compound is used for producing Artemisinin Combination-based Therapy (ACT) malaria drugs.
Mrs. Babaginda noted the Federal Government’s commitment to providing policies that will guide the development of the plant. She said this would aid in achieving import substitution and creating jobs for the unemployed. She also pointed out that in 2005, Nigeria adopted the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation that ACTs should be made the first line treatment for control of malaria.
“This led to the establishment of a Presidential Committee on Artemisinin Production in Nigeria with the mandate to locally cultivate and domesticate Artemisia Annua and extract the crude Artemisinin from the biomass.” She stated. She also pointed out that the compound was to be processed into chemical derivatives as raw materials for indigenous pharmaceutical companies to use.
According to Mrs. Babanginda, one of the achievements of the presidential committee was the pilot cultivation of Artemisia Annua in the six geopolitical zones of the country. The locations were in Enugu, Taraba, Jigawa, Cross River and Ogun States. She however pointed out that in 2008, the committee was dissolved and the Artemisinin Development Company was handed over to the FMARD. It was now under a new name called Nigerian Medicinal Plant Development Company.
She mentioned that the Federal Government has approved the development of a new model. Through this model, the Government would provide an enabling environment and policy framework for the private sector to drive the sub-sector. She noted that the revised NDP (2004) had set a target for 70% of Nigeria’s demand for medicine to be met by local drug manufacturers.
According to Mrs. Babanginda, the Federal Government has placed the crop on its priority list. It seeks to make its value chain in the ministry and be charted into Nigeria’s budget. She noted that the private sector would drive the industry in line with the international best practices which would enable local utilization and exportation to West and Central Africa subregions.