The Nigerian government has said it did not request for COVID-Organics, a herbal medicine used by Madagascar to treat COVID-19 patients.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, made this known at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.
Mr Mustapha said the medicine was offered as a general gesture of ‘brotherly love’ from the Malagasy government to all African countries.
“Nigeria did not ask Madagascar for any solution, the Madagascar government decided to airlift quantities meant for African countries.
”It was taken in the spirit of African brotherly love to Guinea Bissau and we have asked our ambassador there to establish the location, the quantity and he has done that,” he said.
Mr Mustapha, at a past briefing, had noted that the herbal medicine will go through standard validation process before it can be considered for use in Nigeria.
He also said he had received instructions from President Muhammadu Buhari to make arrangements to freight it home, “with a clear instruction that I should subject it to the validation process similar to what will happen to any other medicine or syrup or vaccine that is discovered or created internally.”
“So it will be subjected to the same process before it is put into any form of use. There’ll be no exception for that,” he said.
Nigeria is expected to receive some samples of the herbal medicine which is being used to supposedly treat and prevent COVID-19 in Madagascar.
Though the use of the herbal remedy to treat COVID-19 patients has been trailed by a lot of debates, countries like Tanzania, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, and the Republic of Congo have indicated interest in the herbal remedy.
The herbal medicine was developed by Malagasy Institute of Applied Research.
Meanwhile, Mr Mustapha, who doubles as the Chairman of the Task Force, said Thursday that the consignment meant for Nigeria was yet to be received from Guinea Bissau.
This, he said, is due to difficulties with international freights in the present pandemic.
He, however, noted that all West African countries were expected to reach out to Guinea Bissau to collect their portion.
”That of West Africa was taken to Guinea Bissau so all the members of ECOWAS have their commodities offloaded in Guinea Bissau and that was the one I referred to that we were making arrangements to evacuate.
”We have to make arrangements for its freighting out of Guinea Bissau, but there are no flights.
“The consignment meant for West Africa was dropped in Guinea Bissau and every ECOWAS member nation has been asked to go to Guinea Bissau and pick.
”It is not our priority now, it is not our focus, there are other things that we are dealing with to make sure that we contain the spread in our nation,” he said.
Mr Mustapha also denied allegations that the government abandoned efforts by Nigerian scientists to develop a homegrown cure for the coronavirus.
He said efforts are ongoing to encourage local production of a possible COVID-19 cure.
”I have consistently appealed to those in the field of development in medicine and different invention to submit what they have to NAFDAC.
”Anything you want to bring into this country; be it food or drugs, you must subject it to the validation process of NAFDAC and that’s why all items carry NAFDAC number.
“But the impression out there is as if we abandoned homegrown solution and we were looking for Madagascar solution,” he said.
NAFDAC recently announced that it had only received one proposal for a possible medication to tackle COVID -19 ‘symptoms’ and not a vaccine proposal.