• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Nigeria failing to tap billion-dollar herbal market

Nigeria failing to tap billion-dollar herbal market

Despite having a diverse array of natural herbs and plants, Nigeria is falling behind in harnessing the potential of its traditional and complementary medicine, which could be a lucrative market worth billions of dollars.

The market, which has been dominated by China, India, the United States, Germany, and Thailand, among others, is projected to reach $199.07 billion in 2023 and $417.99 billion by 2033, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 7.7 percent, according to a report by Future Market Insights.

In 2031, South Asia could become the third most profitable market, with India accounting for more than 74 percent of the market.

Herbal medicines are used by about 60 percent of the world’s population for primary healthcare, and about 80 percent of Africans seek solace in traditional medicines for their fundamental health needs, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO, however said the potential of traditional medicine, in terms of research, local manufacturing, and commercialisation, remains untapped, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.

Nigeria, which is home to over 10,000 species of medicinal plants, according to the federal ministry of health, is failing to tap into this potential.

Public health experts highlight inadequate policies and legal frameworks, a near absence of documentation of practice outcomes and bio-resources, inadequate clinical research data, and a lack of political will as some challenges impeding the development of traditional medicine.

They believe that with over 80 percent of Nigerians using herbal medicine, there is a need to develop the market.

Zainab Shariff, a former director of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the Federal Ministry of Health, said the development of traditional medicine will create jobs and wealth as more of the plants will be cultivated.

She pointed out that WHO recognises three healthcare systems – orthodox, traditional and complementary, and argued that Nigeria cannot achieve universal health coverage without incorporating traditional and complementary medicine.

She warned against relying solely on orthodox medicine and called for a focus on local development to attain health security. “How can we achieve universal health coverage with only orthodox medicine? We are only deceiving ourselves. It is important we develop locally,” she said.

According to her, traditional medicine offers both curative and preventive solutions, while orthodox medicine tends to be mostly curative.

Shariff emphasised the need for regulation to develop the market.

According to her, Nigeria has all it takes to grow the traditional medicine market, but political will is greatly lacking.

Meanwhile, preliminary findings from WHO’s first-ever Traditional Medicine Global Summit 2023 in August indicated that around 100 countries had traditional medicine-related national policies and strategies.

Experts say Africa can harness traditional medicines that have proven effective in the management and cure of ailments afflicting the continent’s population, thus lessening the growing burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases on conventional health systems.

They believe that with the right partnerships and investments, Nigeria can rake in billions of naira in revenue.

In 2022, Adeleke Mamora, the then minister of health, pointed out at the inaugural conference on traditional, complementary and alternative medicine that the country has good arable land and climatic conditions for harnessing the potential of the plants for health, social, economic and other benefits.

He said the cultivation of medicinal plants and commercialisation of herbal medicines would attract huge economic benefits to Nigeria.

Calls for the passage of the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Council Bill into law are growing. The bill, if passed, will institutionalise traditional and complementary medicine.