Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu has said that the traditional medicine is the key into the future of Nigerian health system.

Prof. Iwu stated this at the weekend at a press briefing heralding the Herbal, Health Food and Natural Expo (HERBFEST) 2015, which will take place at the Raw Materials Research Development Council (RMRDC), Abuja on Tuesday, 6th October to Thursday, 8th with the theme ‘Food as medicine: Utilization and sustainable exploitation of African medicinal plants and natural products.’

The Professor of Pharmacognosy said, “herbal medicine is an area where many countries are looking at, yet we have not looked into this area to any significant level. We know what happens in China, a lot of people in this country buy products from them and also India where people buy a lot of food supplements”

Adding, he said, “We are hoping that one day, herbal medicine practitioners will be able to look at the global trend and key into scientific traditional trend. We are convinced that traditional medicine is the key into the future of Nigerian health system.”

On the commercial gains in herbal medicine, the don said, the United States recently reported that the growth in herbal dietary supplement, herbal medicine and functional food is 200 million dollars with growth rate of 8 per cent.

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“We have a lot of these functional foods like cashew nuts, even cocoa is an antioxidant proven to fight cardiovascular diseases, we also have dogonyaro. What we lack mainly in Nigeria is awareness of the abundance of these herbs; even today, many don’t know the efficacy of bitter leaf which is good for fighting diabetes, while some know.

Also speaking, the Director General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Dr. Gloria Elemo, said commercialisation of herbal products had been simplified by the institute through researches it embarked upon.

“FIIRO prides itself as home of indigenous technologies in that we have successfully worked on most of the agro-commodities available in Nigeria. Our role as an institution has been to use our expertise in research and development to add value to these practices and to transfer technology to impact on the economy,” she said.

On his part, the Director-General, Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), Etatuvie Oghene, said, “Nigeria is now advancing in herbal medicine research; presently the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, now has traditional medicine in its curriculum. What we need is awareness,” Mr. Oghene siad.

The sixth edition of the expo will be hosted by the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP), NNMDA and FIIRO.

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The expo is set to attract varying investors and trade buyers from across the African region as well as from the wider market of Middle East, Europe and US and will sowcase three days of vibrant herbs, health foods and natural products and a packed programme of training workshops, meetings, seminars and abstracts.