Monday, August 11, 2014

Wake Up Nigerians Or.....

How many Nigerians know that there are several research opportunities that are absent in Nigeria but present in Sudan? (Just one example of not going far anyway)

How many people know that there is a catalogue or there are catalogues of medicinal plants in Nigeria/Africa locked away in some Nigerian institutions?

So many potential medicines are locked up in these plants. In those days we read about the frustrations of scientists (even those before us) working with medicinal plants in Nigeria. It was worse for traditional health workers because they were almost completely relegated. But our forefathers were healthy as we understood it.

Efforts to integrate traditions and modern medicine have always been half-hearted. There are too many factors acting as clogs in the wheel of progress of research in Nigeria especially.

Not many people know that Nigerian scientists travel to Ghana, Mali, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya for examples to do medical researches. In most cases, they will lie about collaborations. But the truth is that the facilities and enabling environments are not in Nigeria, the so called dead giant of Africa. If you add “bad belly syndrome” the story gets messier.

I don’t have the best current information about what is going on today but the fact that nobody mention any potential ingredient that can suppress the symptoms of Ebola means that probably no work has been done in that area or the work done were abandoned as usual.

Someone said or rumoured Bitter Kola. What type of information do we have in the catalogue about the medicinal values of Bitter Kola? What are the active ingredients in Bitter Kola? Have they been extracted? Is there a need to work on drug combinations (as we do with malaria) if bitter kola provides one or a few of the active ingredients?

I actually worked on 4 medicinal plants and studied their activities against malaria in vitro. In the absence of a vaccine, it isimportant that new active medicines are available to treat malaria and other medically important diseases. Children and other categories of people with suppressed or compromised immunity should remain the priorities of medical research.

People should ask the various Nigerian governments what they have done in the last 0-50 years to promote drug discovery and vaccine production efforts of indigenous scientists/researchers/companies.

People need to shift their attentions more to the things that affect the quality of the life they live.  

How many Nigerians have organised or are willing to organise protests to support research for medicinal plants in Nigeria. Which political party has such a program that will promote drug discovery efforts in Nigeria on its manifesto? There are a million things and reasons to organise protests for in Nigeria.

It is sad the level of ignorance that exists. People don’t care about things until they are affected or influenced badly about those things. Still, there are no collective wills to do things the right way.

I cannot over estimate the influences of misplaced priorities, greed, wealth acquisition and total disorientation of people on my lines of arguments. I cannot over estimate the foolishness of people when it comes to the meaning of life, the importance of public services and the need to instigate changes that will promote the common good.

I cannot in this short burst of anger express all the million things that are wrong with Nigeria, with Africa and with a people who do not know that you cannot sow corn and harvest cassava.

Maybe it is time for those fools in power to ask for the catalogues and see what can be processed by the experts so that in the next 10-20 years there will be more useful (approved) medicines in the Nigerian market, made by Nigerian experts.

Before the next 20 billion dollars disappear from the Nigerian treasury to some saving account in London, or to some completely mad and selfish acquisition of 10 billion naira worth of a plot of land in Abuja, maybe the people who are dying out can organise and fight back.

The alternative to not waking up is to perish together; it’s sad but there are usually simple dead-end outcomes for complications that people fail to handle with common sense.

Graphics by Ibrahim Onifade.