Home NewsNational More Efforts to Restore Herbal Medicine In the Offing 

More Efforts to Restore Herbal Medicine In the Offing 

by KT Press Reporter
2:33 pm

Officials from the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) together with those from FXB-Rwanda in a herbal medicine garden

 The National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) has vowed to boost herbal medicines to ensure that they are used as alternative to modern medicine.

In partnership with FXB-Rwanda on February 10, 2023, the agency launched a Phyto Social Enterprise Project (POSE) which seeks to increase production of herbal medicinal products for local and regional consumption.

The event took place in Huye district where NIRDA’s Applied Research and Development Department is based.

The Huye Research Centre has a life sciences laboratory and a botanical garden where more herbal medicinal plants will be  planted.

The POSE project seeks to valorise rich medicinal plant diversity, sustain local production of herbal medicinal products, and increase economic opportunities for the community.

It also seeks to contribute to the research on medicinal plants for their safety, efficiency, and quality control.

According to Dr. Christian Sekomo Birame, the Director General of NIRDA, the three-year project could ensure more herbal medicinal plants are cultivated and high quality phytomedicine produced and used as alternative to modern medicine.

“We want to valorize herbal; we will first engage in the cultivation of herbal medicines in our botanical garden and work with the community around,” he said.

“We will then use our life sciences laboratory to produce herbal medicines and then transfer to the private sector for commercialization. We want those products to be modernized and be sold in pharmacies as they are known to be an alternative to modern medicine,” he added.

He further noted that NIRDA will also seek to commercialize already developed products while more research could be conducted on new ones.

This partnership will see companies involved in production of herbal medicine trained to embrace implementation of Good Manufacturing (GPM) process and comply with national standards and have them registered and certified.

 Why the project is very important

According to health experts, herbal medicine or phytomedicine plays a big role in the health sector development and in the treatment of several diseases as an alternative way to modern medicine.

Over 40 percent of pharmaceutical formulations are based on natural products and landmark drugs, including aspirin and artemisinin originated from traditional medicine according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Christian Sekomo Birame, NIRDA DG speaks during the launch of the Project in Huye district

However, official figures indicate that Rwanda imported 98 per cent of medicines and spent nearly $100 million in 2019.

Despite the role herbal medicine plays in treating several diseases, it has remained less developed and in the hands of traditional healers who don’t meet standards of being certified and accepted both at national and international market.

 They are not aware of the properties of the active ingredients or how the doses should be adjusted according to the plant’s raw material used in the drug formulation process.

WHO says that the contribution of traditional medicine to the national health systems is not yet fully realized and traditional medicine workers’ facilities, expenditures and products are not fully accounted for.

 Jean Damascene Ndayisaba, FXB-Rwanda Legal Representative hailed NIRDA’s commitment to improve herbal medicinal plants and turn them into quality products.

“We are committed to making this partnership a success,” he said. “We want to make sure that the community around us benefit from it through getting jobs and learning how to cultivate medicinal plants in their gardens,” he added.

NIRDA is a government institution that has been mandated with a mission to enable a generation of industrial innovators to become competitive through technology monitoring, acquisition, development and transfer and applied research.

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