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    Thursday, March 7, 2024

    UNILAG VC, Prof. Iwu Advocates for Increased Awareness of Medicinal Plants

    During a retirement ceremony honoring Professor Joy Okpuzor, a renowned professor of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Lagos, Nigerian Professor of Pharmacognosy, Prof. Maurice Iwu, emphasized the need for heightened awareness regarding the utilization of medicinal plants in Nigeria.

    Prof. Iwu and other notable academicians have said Nigeria is ripe for the export of some of its indigenous medicinal plants to the rest of the world.

    This was as the experts said they would help attract more research funding to validate more of the country’s medicinal plants to ensure they are safe and efficacious.

    Iwu stated this yesterday, in Lagos, while delivering a keynote address titled, ‘Beyond Lifespan: The Use of Rasayanas in the Treatment of Ageing and Age-related Diseases,’ at a valedictory ceremony in honour of Prof. Joy Okpuzor, who retired voluntarily from the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

    He noted that more awareness needed to be done for people to embrace medicinal plants.

    “People should know that they can still treat themselves without necessarily depending on people, not to exhaust our own foreign reserves and or importing some things we can make locally. No country is self- dependent or totally independent of others for drugs. We still have to buy those we don’t make, but to buy everything from outside is wrong.

    “My main concern is Nigerian people; if they can embrace what they have, government inclusive, and that way we will be able to move forward. Right now, Nigerians should be able to export a lot of our own medicinal plants either processed or finished products, to the outside world.”

    He said for most of the diseases particularly the chronic ailments that people would spend money on, such as hypertension, diabetics and so on, there are indigenous products for them.

    According to him, “Things that are as simple as the ordinary zobo, for example, are very good for people who have high blood pressure. If you go out there you will see displays of various sophisticated, well packaged medicines that are from our Nigerian plant. That is the essential message.”

    Also, the head of the African Union committee on standardisation of traditional medicines, said Africa must begin to bring its medicinal plants into focus.

    The celebrant, Okpuzor, who had directly trained nine doctorate students, 80 masters students and 180 undergraduate students in her 33 years of active service at UNILAG, retired as a professor in the department of Cell Biology and Genetics and delivered her inaugural lecture titled, ‘Nature’s Work Gang: Their Role in Life Processes’.

    Okpuzor had published over 60 papers both in international, local journals, and over 50 publications in conference proceedings.

    The Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, said the university had actually been investigating medicinal plants for a very long time.

    According to her, “More recently we had a World Bank sponsored research centre looking at traditional medicines. Now there is a lot of our traditional medicines that we have to verify and validate because once you say something does something you have to be sure that there is nothing by chance.”

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