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Alternative medicine acceptability will increase in 2016

Nigeria in 2016 Special Edition

Samuel Tunde Ayeni is the CEO of Sea Duck Limited, a certified health Coach/lifestyle manager. He is also a member of the Association of America Drugless Practitioner, AADP. In an interview with Frances Enakhitare, predicted a favourable atmosphere for the Alternative medicine in 2016.

Alternative medicine in 2015

There has been a tremendous growth in the herbal industry in Nigeria when compared to previous years. There is

Ayeni
Ayeni

more awareness on the part of the masses that have now come to realize that natural medicines actually work. A lot of Nigerians now patronize herbal stores and use herbal products; they are getting better results from herbal medicines than from the orthodox ones. Also, the Federal Government recognition of the efficacy of herbal products has further boosted the acceptability of the products. A lot of herbal drug companies were established and the ones that had lost ground came back to life in a more redefined way.

Much scientific works have been done on many herbs, roots, leaves and barks in Nigeria. Large percentages of herbal product manufacturers are now springing up.   This trend will continue as more investments are channeled into the industry. 2015 was indeed a year of tremendous change for the herbal industry in Nigeria.

Challenges & obstacles

Exchange rate is one major challenge herbal practitioners have to face during the course of production. Some manufacturers here in Nigeria have to bring in the finished products and repackage them here, while the ones being manufactured or grown here are not properly cultivated because of the money involved. So they just package it below standard for the masses. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, on the other hand is not really helping the situation. Their cost of registration is so high and they don’t have specific price, but this is not so for the orthodox medicine. Now they have increased the registration fees of herbal products to about N500, 000 while that of food is about N1.2 million. It is not everybody that can afford these amounts. Another major problem is the cost; most practitioners import these herbal products from UK and it is very expensive and as a result tells on the amount the practitioner sells to their customers. The herbal drugs are more expensive than the orthodox ones, you can get a pain relieve herbal drug for N5,000 while an orthodox medicine with same potential can go for less than N100. Another problem is illiteracy on the part of some practitioners who just go into the business to make money without having background knowledge of it.

Way forward

Loans from banks will make it easier for herbal practitioners to produce standard and quality products, only if they are worthy of it. Secondly, NAFDAC also should assist by cutting down the cost of registration, because it was formerly N375, 000. It was during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan they increased it. Practitioners on the other hand, should be given at least six months to produce their products and three months’ probation before demanding different criteria’s from them before they could register.

Prospects for 2016

There is a potential market for health products and consumables in Nigeria come 2016. Being Africa’s most populous nation with a population of over 160 million people, Nigeria boasts of the most dynamic market for natural and health products in Africa. In 2016, Nigerians should expect more awareness and acceptability. In 2016 you will see Nigerians recommending herbal drugs for all sorts of ailments before any other products. Most of the natural and health products imported to Nigeria come from England and America, which consumers believe are more reliable sources when compared to Asia.  A lot of locally manufactured natural health products also will be widely accepted by consumers in Nigeria. This Shift will continue in future as more investments are put in the industry.

Efficacy of alternative medicine

Natural health provides a reasonably safe, alternative to mainstream treatments. Many diseases such as, Hypertension, Diabetes, Herpes, HIV & AIDS, staphylococcus infection, fibroid, cancer and so on. have no cure as far as orthodox medicine is concerned but the alternative medicine have been able to tackle some of these diseases to a great extent. Though the alternative medicine won’t heal you immediately because it takes time to fully take effect, herbal products with the combination of other things like one’s lifestyle and diet, will help you get an excellent result.   Most diseases can be prevented and reversed by better nutrition and lifestyle; drugs have failed in some areas, because they are the wrong approach sometimes.

Market share

In general, in terms of market share we can look at 40% for the herbal medicine, while that of the orthodox medicine is 60%. This is due to the fact that the scientific community has criticized alternative medicine as being based on misleading statements, quackery, fraud, or poor scientific methodology. Promoting alternative medicine has been called dangerous and unethical. Testing alternative medicine has been called a waste of scarce medical research resources.

Profitability

The business of herbal medicine is profitable. This is because health comes before anything. You can only work and make money with a healthy lifestyle. When your health is shaky, it will disrupt so many things. So people will happily spend or buy things that will be beneficial to their well-being than otherwise. That is why you see pharmaceutical companies and stores spring up in all nooks and crannies of the society in Nigeria. So it is a good business an individual can invest in.

Published in the Business Eye’s print version, Jan 2016 edition.

 

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