The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has reacted to criticisms that the Federal Government was not looking inward in the search for COVID-19 cure.
He said many traditional medicines that were being suggested by some herbal practitioners in the country as cures for COVID-19 had not been tested and might be toxic.
The minister, who spoke at the PTF press conference in Abuja, said the traditional cures must first be tested on animals and certified not to be toxic.
He said the Federal Government would not give COVID-19 patients to traditional or alternative medical practitioners to test the efficacy of their drugs as there were no “human guinea pigs.”
He said, “On the cure of COVID-19, the traditional medicines that have been given to us or rather that people said they had, we have referred to them to Traditional Medicine Complementary Department of the Federal Ministry of Health and to the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development to evaluate.
“But some of them, who have written to me that they have medicines, have asked me to give them 10 patients so that they can cure them. They say ‘give me 10, give me one and I will cure them, and you will see that it works.’
“But we don’t do it like that in medicine. We don’t have human guinea pigs. Anybody who knows that he or she has a cure must prove to me that it was tried and it worked. Many of the cures are not tested on anyone at all.
“Of course, I am not giving them anyone to go and carry out their tests. That is why they have to go through the research cycle to make sure that their medicines are not toxic and you can also check the efficacy. So, those are things that will be tested.
“Any kind of medicine can be toxic. The toxicity can be checked and you can also check the efficacy. And as you know, you have to try it on animals such as rats and mouse, before it is certified.”
Ehanire added that the Federal Government would mandate states to improve the conditions of the isolation centres because of the complaints about the poor feeding and living conditions in some of the centres.
He also said the Federal Government was making efforts to get more materials for COVID-19 treatment.
The minister stated, “We are increasing our intensive care units beds and ventilators. We have some on order and we are also getting from countries. The United States President promised Nigeria some ventilators. We also got a letter that the government of China is sending us another load of relief materials to attend to COVID-19. So it is a question of fixing them particularly in our teaching hospitals and federal medical centres.
“Without drawing any conclusion, the number of persons who have required ventilators so far is very few.
“The fatalities arising from COVID-19 are overwhelmingly connected to pre-existing conditions such as kidney disease, high blood pressure, cancer and tuberculosis. They are connected to age and underlying conditions.