By Naneka Hoffman
The African Center of Excellence for Drug Research, Herbal Medicine Development and Regulatory Science (ACEDHARS) at Lagos University in Nigeria in collaboration with the Traditional Complementary Medicine Unite at the Ministry of Health and the School of Pharmacy here has ended five days of training on Toxicological Evaluation of Herbal Product for over 162 professional health workers and traditional healers in Liberia.
Speaking at the close of the training on May 20, at the college of health sciences, University of Liberia, the Executive Director of the African Center of Excellence for Drug Research, Madam Omobolanel Ade-Ademilua thanked the administrators for the five-day training.
Madam Ade-Ademilua said the strategic plan of the University of Lagos is to actually assist in developing a future for West Africa, with support of the World Bank.
She said they have embarked on an eight-part project in Lagos to take Liberia as one of those countries to collaborate within drugs production, regulation as well as herbal medicine production and regulation, respectively.
She stressed the need to develop regionally-grown medicines, noting that traditionally, “We have those medicines but [they]don’t meet international standards and this is the reason for these programs.”
She urged participants to implement the knowledge acquired during the five days training in order to make significant impact on society.
At the same time, Madam Ade-Ademilua disclosed that ACEDHARS has awarded fully-funded scholarships to 27 Liberians to pursue Master’s and Ph.D. studies in medicines, using plants from Liberia.
She said the scholarship beneficiaries will go to Nigeria for research, but they would need busy laboratory facility hence, she appeals to the Government of Liberia for assistance to develop a laboratory in the School of Pharmacy.
“We don’t want them to use Nigerian plants, we want them to use Liberian plants, Liberian medicines because they can produce their own products that they can make in Liberia, so these businesses can make for attractions, concentration of extra before they can come to Nigeria.”
Moreover, she appealed to the Government of Liberia to assist by providing scholarships, because they can only do, but it is insufficient to serve all of the students, disclosing that the program covers studies for five Master’s degrees and five PhDs.
According to Madam Ade-Ademilua, the project is sponsored by the World Bank with US$6 million to the University of Lagos to develop West and Central African countries, including Djibouti, adding So, we are developing big countries to help develop drugs, herbal medicines and regulation of drugs and herbal medicines.
Also speaking at the program, the director of complementary division at the Ministry of Health (MOH) Mohammed Kamara thanked the ACEHDERS for the partnership that has landed Liberia thus far, particularly efforts that made the plan fruition.
“My appreciation to everyone that took up their time to attend this all-important training (herbal medicine toxicological evaluation and result interpretation). This shows our support for the development of herbal medicine in Liberia”, Mr. Kamara said.
He noted that Liberia remains the highest potential in forest resources on the west coast of Africa (NFI Reports 2018/2019). Its average forest cover, given the NFI-driven forest definition that did not include plantations as a single nation surpasses all other nations in the Upper Guinean forests. This means that Liberia remains a vibrant place for Herbal medicine practice.
He urged the scholarship beneficiaries to take advantage of the opportunity to develop themselves and serve as advocates for the promotion of safe and best practices in herbal medicine.
For her part, former Montserrado County District#7 Representative Aloniza M. Ennos, thanked the facilitators and professors for a job well done.
She said they have changed her mentality and she is going to change all iron pots in her house.
The ex-lawmaker continued that usually when people think about herbalists, all that comes to mind is Juju coming from the bush.
Participant Dr. Muya Karuah thanked his Nigerian counterpart for making him become Doctor of Pharmacy, of which he is proud.
Certificates and cash prizes of US$20 were awarded to each Best Performer at the closing program, including Jimmy D. Carter, Davidson Gargar, and Korto B. Joekollie
Best participating students include Yarnemon F. Sherman, Dr. F. Kwo – Akpeh Dolo, Charles W. Golongaye, Rachael Walker and Rebecca Gaye. Editing by Jonathan Browne