The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said it has received only one application for approval of a product for the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms and not for cure of the disease.
This was in spite of NAFDAC’s call for the expression of interest for COVID-19 related medicines and efforts of agency to guide researchers and practitioners on how best to submit such medicines to NAFDAC for expedited review.
Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, in a statement, explained that the essence of passing herbal products through thorough and strict test process before approval was granted for human consumption was because some of the herbs were poisonous.
“That Africa as a continent is blessed with diverse plants and herbs that constitute a source of food and medicine is incontrovertible. But a claim of cure for any disease must be subjected to clinical evaluation through well controlled, randomised clinical trials following an approved clinical trial protocol. Many of these plants are very poisonous. However, NAFDAC, as an agency with the mandate of safeguarding the health of Nigerians will continue to ensure that only medicinal products, including herbal remedies, that have proven safety data would be approved for use by the public.
“Presently, the agency lists herbal medicines based on historical perspective on the use of the products after carrying out toxicological and microbiological evaluations in the laboratories to ensure that they are, at the minimum, safe for human consumption. The listing status is valid for two years and is renewable,” she said.
The NAFDAC boss said the agency was committed to the advancement of herbal products, hence the decision to set up the Nigerian Herbal Medicine Product Committee (HMPC) which brings together manufacturers, academia, researchers and relevant stakeholders to bridge the gap often created between traditional medicine practitioners (possible patent holders) and drug manufacturers, whose responsibility it would be to formulate the products.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said about 171,000 children in Nigeria risks deaths following weakened health care system in Nigeria.
UNICEF also hinted that globally, 6,000 children under the age of five could die every day, based on an analysis by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, newly published in The Lancet Global Health journal.
It said in Nigeria, the potential child deaths would be in addition to the 475,200 children who already die before their fifth birthday every six months, thus threatening to reverse a decade of progress in ending preventable under-five child mortality in Nigeria.