NAFDAC screening local cures for COVID-19, says FG

The Federal Government on Thursday said it has evaluated claims by local researchers that they have manufactured curative drugs for COVID-19.

Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 at the daily briefing in Abuja, yesterday. explained that having met preliminary requirements, the drugs had been forwarded to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, for listing.

National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force for COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, restated the federal government's position on Wednesday that no cure had been found for the disease.

The government also expressed worries over the continued repatriation of Almajiriai by states, saying the development could fuel a spike in infections.

On compliance with general safety protocols put in place against the virus, the federal government asked security agencies not to cut corners, adding that they would only be tarnishing the image of their organization by doing that.

It also urged Nigerians to alert the authorities whenever they witnessed cases of infractions by security operatives enforcing the partial lockdown.

These were some of the points raised at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19 in Abuja, yesterday.

Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, said local cure claims had now been forwarded to NAFDAC for listing, having met with preliminary requirements.

He said: "For some time now, there have been claims of inventions and cures related to COVID-19. The PTF, as part of its mandate, remains supportive of and receptive to outcomes of research.

''It, however, finds it imperative to reiterate its position on the need for such discoveries to undergo the scientific validation processes. The PTF is aware that the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department of the Federal Ministry of Health has been evaluating such claims and forwarded some that have met the preliminary requirements to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.''

The SGF also expressed displeasure at the continued non-compliance with safety measures put in place by the government.

He said: "Reports from various parts of the country at the close of day yesterday May 6, 2020(Wednesday) indicate the following: High level of non-compliance with the ban on inter-state travels . This resulted in a high number of vehicles finding their way across many state borders, despite the curfew/ border restrictions.

''Lack of respect for timing and the curfew also resulted in heavy traffic gridlock where many motorists spent the night, following the enforcement of the curfew;

"Increasing level of abuse of exemption granted to vehicles conveying specified goods. Reports from across the country show that they continue to hide passengers with the intention of ferrying them across state boundaries.

"Continual transportation of Almajiris across state borders is still evident. I have highlighted the foregoing as it relates to the road transportation sector to underscore the dangers inherent in the seeding of the virus across states.

"I, however, commend the security agencies for their vigilance in apprehending and prosecuting violators. It is, worrisome, however, to note reports received about isolated cases of compromise by some security operatives.

''We urge the various commands of the security agencies to enhance their monitoring machinery to ensure that we do not only achieve the objective of stopping the spread of the virus but also prevent the good name of the services from being tarnished.

"We also implore all Nigerians to alert the security agencies whenever they witness the violation of these guidelines.

"The PTF has become aware of a number of challenges associated with management of the isolation centres. These have manifested in the form of protests over welfare, abscondment from centres and loud complaints based on the assumption by persons under observation, that drugs must be administered.

"The first two are unhealthy developments capable of undermining the containment measures and putting the lives of care managers and frontline workers at risk. Similarly, persons in isolation are encouraged to follow the direction and instructions of the experts during their stay as treatment to be administered would largely depend on the evaluation of the doctor. ''We, however, urge all state governments to continue to pay attention to the welfare of people in isolation and for security agencies to provide adequate security around such facilities to prevent escape."

In his presentation, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said his ministry had just finished a meeting with the Ministry of Science and Technology which demonstrated impressive innovative capabilities to participate in finding solutions to problems of shortages.

"We are convinced that Nigeria has the potential to manufacture many of the commodities we currently import which are in high global demand and difficult to come by," he added.

The ministry had earlier written to NAFDAC on the 'formulation of a phyto medicine based cough mixture/syrup' for the management of COVID-19.

In the letter, the ministry noted that Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which could be exploited and expressed happiness that its Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department, TCAM, has taken the pains to research into scientific materials to come up with a formulation intended for the management of cough in COVID-19 and other cough related infections.

The letter, signed by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, A.M Abdullahi read: "This is to convey my compliments to you. As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is currently ravaging the world, with no definite treatment or vaccine.

''This has necessitated countries to look for solution from within and Nigeria is no exception. It is worthy to note that Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which could be exploited.

"It is heart-warming to note that the Department of TCAM has taken the pains to research into scientific materials to come up with a formulation intended for the management of cough in COVID-19 and other cough related infections.

"The formulation is Cov-herbal cough mixture. Interestingly, all the ingredients that make up the formulations are medicinal plants that are widely used as food materials and medicines. They include: Allium sativa (Garlic); Allium cepa (Onions); Zingiber officinale (Ginger); Piper guineense (West African Black Pepper); and Andasonia digitata (Baobab fruit). The innovation here is the composition of the formulation.

"These medicinal plants have documented scientific evidences of long use for the management of cough and other respiratory infections, with medicinal properties of mucolytic, antitussive, expectorant, soothing, demulcent, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects.

"The Ministry is determined to walk-the-talk in the promotion and integration of herbal medicine into the health care delivery system. In view of the foregoing and the desire of the Ministry to show case to the public a product that is 100% sourced locally, you are requested to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.

"The Ministry will contract the packaging of the product to some identified pharmaceutical companies. Find attached scientific evidences of the products and labelling for your information and necessary action.''

On Kogi, the Health minister said a ministerial team, including officials of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and Department of Hospital Services of the Ministry of Health were already in the state.

"They will ensure that the state has adequate testing capacity and shall also advocate the engagement of traditional rulers and community leaders in surveillance efforts of the state. I appreciate the collaboration promised by His Excellency, the governor of Kogi. A similar team will also travel to Cross River State for the same purpose," he stated.

The Presidency, yesterday, explained the reason it ignored the request of Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, for N15 billion to fight COVID-19 in the state, saying it needed to be convinced about what was on ground to come up with any intervention.

Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, gave the explanation on a radio program, As E Dey Hot on Wazobia FM, Kano.

Adesina noted that the federal government assisted Lagos State with N10 billion only because it was satisfied it started the war against the virus on a right footing by rolling out plans and mobilising funds.

He said Lagos State was only scouting for technical, manpower and facility supports, and not financial support.

The Presidential aide said with that, the federal government felt obliged to lend a helping hand and not because it was asked to do so.

Adesina, however, explained that all the governors directly asking for money at the start of their COVID-19 crisis might not get it, saying that explained the reason the President sent technical support to Kano State which the federal government felt was what was needed at the material time in the state.

"The federal government is moved by what it saw, and say, ah! This state needs help, and then it helped Lagos State.

"Any other state that is also doing its work and is not complaining, and is not saying bring money, bring money, bring money, federal government will do all that is necessary to assist.

"Technical support is very important. Lagos State got technical support before it got financial support. Manpower support is very good. Facility support, very good. And then, when it comes to financial support, the federal government will always do whatever is necessary to support," Adesina said.

Recall that the federal government at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria, released N10 billion to Lagos State to boost its capacity in the fight against COVID-19 outbreak.

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