A Nigerian Agency Developed Covid Mixture, But Nobody Is Talking About It

 

Picture: FRIN headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo State

The Covid-19 Organics - a herbal mixture developed in Madagascar to treat/prevent the coronavirus disease has gained popularity across the world. The native formulation was mainly derived from 'Artemisia Annun', a plant with proven anti-malaria properties. This is happening at a time when the developed countries which are the usual frontliners in emergencies like this are struggling to find a cure for the infection. Although the herbal mixture lacks the backing of the World Health Organization, the fact that Madagascar has kept the contagion at bay has sustained the interest of some African countries in the mixture.

Since the discovery, questions have been asked about what Nigeria is bringing to the table in its fight against the highly infectious and deadly respiratory disease. A federal government agency named the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, (FRIN) in Ibadan, Oyo State has come to the rescue of Nigeria. Sadly, the poly-herbal mixture of plants developed by the massive establishment appears to have slipped under the radar unnoticed, while the Covid-19 Organics stays in the spotlight.


What the government agency developed

On the 13th of May, FRIN, a research institute (under the Ministry of Environment) that has existed for 66 years went public about its development of a homegrown treatment for coronavirus patients. It should be noted that FRIN is one of the foremost research centres in Nigeria concerning knowledge-based forest activities. Over the years, it has recorded breakthroughs in the areas of forest resources, conservation, management and utilization; forestry manpower development and general environmental protection.

Picture: Managing Director of FRIN, Prof. Adeshola Adepoju

According to the agency which is also developed herbal hand-sanitizers two months ago, the solution has been tested and trusted. It was made out of medicinal plants that have been found suitable for the treatment of the major symptoms of coronavirus, ranging from Malaria, coughs, joint pains, respiratory challenges, and others. The Managing Director of the institute, Professor Adeshola Adepoju gave his assurance about the efficacy of the mixture in a press statement which gathered rapt attention and optimism. The poly-herbal mixture was made from medicinal plans like Anchomanes Difformis, Cymbopogon Citrates, Newbouldia Laevis, Morinda Lucida, King of Bitters and others. Professor Adepoju explained that the natural anti-oxidants found in the plants mentioned above could prevent pathological consequences and cell destruction.

Above pictures: The production of herbal hand sanitizers at a laboratory in FRIN

The mixture was touted as a viable treatment for cough, flu, malaria, fever, respiratory diseases and others associated with coronavirus. Due to an acclaimed high demand and acceptability, over 5,000 units of the solution were produced. The only hurdle left for the distribution of the herbal solution was an assessment and approval by the National Agency For Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC.


How come nobody is talking about it?

Due to the uncertainties around the discovery of a vaccine to eradicate the virus, amid it's spread at the speed of light, people have become apprehensive. The vacuum created by the absence of a cure was filled tentatively by the Covid-19 Organics. Many enthusiasts expected the Nigerian solution to share the centre stage with it. But it failed to do so. This might not be far from an age-long challenge that has always bedevilled Nigerians. There is the problem of apathy and distrust towards local commodities. The easiest way to market any product in the country is by telling the potential consumer that it's imported. This gives the buyer a high level of assurance about the quality.

Another factor is that the government might not be expecting local solutions. Although, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, and other members of the Presidential Task Force for Covid-19 keep telling traditional doctors with medical initiatives to come forward, the body language of the government is saying something different. The Nigerian government which is enjoying a cordial relationship with the WHO appears to be waiting for the western world to develop a cure.

And also, the feat achieved by FRIN seems to be a story media practitioners are not interested in. It sounds like a fairy tale that has been narrated to them before, and they feel there will be no surprises at the end of it.


Government support is key

If you have been following the heroics of the Covid-19 Organics, you will realize that it's number one brand ambassador is the president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina. The 45-year-old hasn't only been posing with the products in public, but he has been seen drinking it, as he claims it serves two purposes; preventive and curative. He has taken on the WHO for failing to endorse the mixture, and he has also distributed some of the products among some African countries including Nigeria for trial purposes. The FRIN solution lacks an ambassador and also government support.

Picture: President Andry Rajoelina and his team, showcasing Covid-19 Organics in public

The tight spot FRIN's innovation has found itself would have been much different if the mainstream media platforms in Nigeria reported the launching of the solution. It would have been popular if President Muhammadu Buhari or one of his media aides sparked a conversation about it on social media by simply posting about the development. The daily briefings of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 could have been a viable ground to simply drop hints about the existence of the product. Some simple words by the Minister of Health could have made a major difference. What about some comments by mere receipt of the products by NAFDAC? That could have given the products unprecedented publicity. But we have turned a blind eye to the product, while we rush for hydroxychloroquine whose efficacy is highly debatable. We appear to be more interested in the actual location of the 15 Chinese doctors in Nigeria, rather than a cure to this contagion.


Picture: DG of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye

A flicker of light by NAFDAC boss

The Director-General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, was on the 15th of May, full of praises for Madagascar over Covid-19 Organics. She sees it as a concrete effort coming at a critical period when scarcity of drugs, medical equipment, test kits is being experienced. According to her, India, which is like the pharmacy of the world, is no longer exporting drugs. The country is stockpiling them for future local consumption. She admonished Nigeria to look inwards and invest in research. It appears that she is oblivious of the achievement of FRIN. FRIN might have come to the rescue of Nigeria unnoticed. The agency which a history of integrity and ingenuity, needs to be given all the support as it contributes its quota to the global battle against coronavirus. If the solution works as anticipated, the benefits will be invaluable and unquantifiable. Nigerian lives will be saved at a low cost, the funds of government and private individuals budgeted for the Covid battle will be saved, the local economy will be revived, and Nigeria can earn foreign exchange through its exportation.

The discovery of the Covid-19 cure or vaccine is bound to put any country on the map of greatness, no matter the country's size, status or history. Nigeria can do it, but the will has to be backed by actions.


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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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