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‘Why COVID-19 could not hit Nigeria hard’

By Stanley Akpunonu
15 October 2020   |   3:07 am
A consultant ophthalmologist and Chairman, Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board, (LSTMB), Prof. Adebukunola Adefule-Ositelu, has said the board developed a herbal mix

[files] A man wearing a face mask, amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, wait outside a hospital with a banner warning about the virus. (Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP)

*Garlic, ginger, lemon have antiviral properties, contain vitamin C
*Preventing visual impairment, blindness in Nigeria with ‘nature’

A consultant ophthalmologist and Chairman, Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board, (LSTMB), Prof. Adebukunola Adefule-Ositelu, has said the board developed a herbal mix that could prevent Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to her, the product has obtained ethics approval and has been submitted to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for registration and had been processed for a clinical trial.

The chairman said: “The mix is a natural product, there is nothing chemical about it, and as much as we wait for the cure, it is known to people who develop it and everybody using it both in Nigeria and diasporas.”

Adefule-Ositelu explained that COVID-19 could not hit Nigeria hard because most of the leaves, vegetables, and herbs Nigerians use have health benefits.

“We eat well, things like garlic, ginger, and lemon that people use have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and some of them also repair tissues because they contain vitamin C,” she said.

The Prof thanked the Lagos State government for adding traditional medicine practitioners as an arm of the health sector because the World Health Organisation (WHO) has mandated them to be more effective.

However, she stated there had been a lack of interest from some leaders because the efforts of some of the practitioners had not been carried out effectively enough.

“We in Lagos State can now talk because we are already included. When we came in, we met absolutely nothing, the former chairman worked so hard but you could not see the effect because there was no government complement. Now, the government is more involved and we are encouraged,” she noted.

The expert said when they came on board, they had to harmonise and bring them together because they were not progressive. “We have had a series of meeting settling and bringing them together. We are training some of them. The government promised to do something about the structural challenges we have.”

Adefule-Ositelu said poor funding; research and lack of commitment were factors affecting the sector and called for urgent government intervention.

She added: “The only other challenge traditional medicine practice has is the wrong impression of our people about that word ‘traditional’. Traditional is original, natural, and indigenous to people in their different environments and culture. It is not occult. Occultism is not to be tagged with tradition. It is condemned in all our religious settings. We are richly and divinely favoured and endowed by nature in our God-given environment.

“This is obvious with the recent pandemic. People should change the colonial mentality and stop accepting being inferior in any way. We have all we need to live a quality life, a healthy life. A healthy nation is a progressive nation.”

Meanwhile, to mark World Sight Day, Adefule-Ositelu said it was important to raise public awareness on blindness and vision impairment as major international public health issues adding that three out of four of the world’s vision-impaired are avoidable.

With the theme, “Hope in Sight”, she noted the need to influence governments at all levels to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programmes and also educate target audiences about blindness prevention.

The expert stated that the most common cause of vision impairment in children is the congenital cataract.

“The commonest causes of eye impairment, though depends on age, are cataract, glaucoma, refractive errors, complications of system diseases like diabetes, hypertension, kidney and liver problems. We have environmental factors like seasonal allergies, infections, occupational hazards like carpenters, welder, the farmer, and accidents.”

Adefule-Ositelu said some of the causes of vision impairment are preventable while some are not, cataract could be congenital,

The ophthalmologist warned that during pregnancy, a mother could be infected with rubella virus and it affects the formation and growth of the eye which can make the child develop cataract or other ocular complications.

She continued: “ We also have congenital glaucoma and as one age the lens also undergoes some changes and the transparency also reduces and you form cataract but this is accelerated when one has diabetes or other infections. We have the age-related ones, injuries, and occupational hazards, some also run in the family.”

The Prof stressed that it is actually important to screen children at birth, preschool, at every stage in life not only for the eyes but other systems of the body.

According to her, more cases would be picked treated once screening is intensified and we would have fewer cases of serve impairment.

“The total healthcare in Nigeria needs special attention and more dedication. When you have job satisfaction, you see that less brain will be draining out. We need doctors, we do not have enough and yet they are moving abroad adding to the burden of blindness and care. It is saddening, the whole health sector needs attention,” she added.

Meanwhile, the expert said Garcinia kola (bitter kola) Aqueous Eye Drops she developed has been shown to be very effective on primary open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.

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