Published On: Thu, Mar 23rd, 2017

NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT AND ITS INSTITUTIONS NEEDS TO ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT NIGERIAN SCIENTISTS/RESEARCHERS ON MEDICINES AND CURE FOR TERMINAL DISEASES

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 PRESS RELEASE

 


President Muhammadu Buhari,

Office of the President of the

Federal Republic of Nigeria,

Aso Rock Villa,

Asokoro District,

Abuja.

March 22, 2017

 

Dear Sir,

It is appalling to note how we as a people, are never good at encouraging and supporting what is our own, especially when the person(s) who made the breakthrough/progress is not of the same class, tribe/ethnicity, region and even religion, with us. We see this ‘attitudinal disposition/problem playing out in virtually every aspect of our lives and interaction with others. Sadly, this same ‘unpatriotic disposition’ is also exhibited by those in Government, and in this case, the institutions of Government in the health sector that are is in-charge of control, supervision and management of Scientific Research and breakthroughs in Medicinal cure for terminal illnesses.

With recent statistics that Nigeria has one of the highest burdens of Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) in the world and second only to South Africa in the African continent, and according to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), there are about three million Nigerians living with HIV and only about one million are on the free treatment programme of the Federal Government; one would have thought that by now, if there is any breakthrough in the Research findings for the cure for AIDS – be it by anyone – the Nigerian Government and its relevant Institutions would be very much interested in such findings and encourage/support whomever is behind it, to see that the scourge of AIDS is wiped out amongst us. But no way, that has not been the case, as all we have witnessed in the last couple of years are ‘harsh and discouraging reactions’ form the Government and its Institutions to every known claim by different Nigerians of finding/having the cure for AIDS. One begins to wonder, is that we want the HIV/AIDS scourge to continue to ravage our society, or that we think that a Nigerian will never be able to find the cure for the said deadly disease? Whatever it is, there is definitely something they are not telling us or people are not aware of.

From Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka with his controversial vaccine for Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), in 1999, Dr. Paul Olisa Ojeih in 2000, Prof. Isaiah Ibeh of University of Benin, Edo State, in 2013, and more recently, Prof. Maduike Ezeibe of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abia State, there have been ‘harvest of unverified cure claims’. However, like we said, the most interesting and rather sad thing in all of this is the manner in which the claimants present their findings and the harsh reaction of Government Agencies/Institutions to these claims. The unfortunate thing here is that, no headway has been made despite these myriads of claims of possible cures for HIV.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) under the leadership of its immediate past Director General, Dr. Paul Orhii, made efforts set up a national committee made up of professors of medicine to verify the cure claims. Unfortunately, the committee could not do much due to lack of funds. NAFDAC had in September 2011 arrested the Managing Director of Winners Medical Diagnostics and Research Institute, Dr. Jacob Abdullahi for dealing in expired medicines claimed to be cure for HIV. Also, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) have called for clinical trials to test the efficacy of these HIV cure claims. In the words of Orhii as reported back then: “What we have done is that we have formed a committee of professors of medicine in Nigeria to see what we can do. We are meeting to work out ways of doing clinical trials for all the cure claims in Nigeria. This is because if you allow everybody to make claims of cure for HIV we will be doing ourselves a lot of harm. If you claim that you have cure, we will find a doctor who has patients and re-evaluate it, and do a blinded trial so that the Intellectual Property Right (IPR) is protected. When we have finished the screening, we will then begin the approval process.” Surprisingly, besides Abalaka and Ezeibe, there are many other Nigerians believe they have a cure for HIV.

All of this makes one to wonder why all these claims? Is a cure for HIV possible? What are the procedures for presenting cure findings? What is the Federal Government and relevant Agencies/Institutions doing to address the issue?

According to the latest estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. In 2015, 1.1 (940, 000–1.3 million) million people died from HIV-related causes globally. There were approximately 36.7 (34.0–39.8) million people living with HIV at the end of 2015 with 2.1 (1.8–2.4) million people becoming newly infected with HIV in 2015 globally. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with 25.6 (23.1–28.5) million people living with HIV in 2015. Also, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for two-thirds of the global total of new HIV infections. Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but a combination of drugs, approved and recommended by the WHO has been used to prevent new infections, especially in mother to child transmission. The drugs have also been shown to effectively reduce the virus to near-zero levels, thereby making it hard to be transmitted. The WHO now recommends the drugs for all HIV positive persons to stop new infections. But the WHO insists the drugs are not cures. There are also vaccines under development but none has shown enough promise to be deployed for mass therapeutic or preventive uses.

Meanwhile, Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Virology at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abia State, Maduike Ezeibe, the latest HIV cure claimant, was reportedly shouted down by National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and the Nigeria Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) for allegedly not following laid down procedures before going public with his findings. But the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable diseases has urged relevant Government agencies, including NACA and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to interface with the cure claimant in order to subject his claim through scientific means. The Committee led by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, during the 2017 budget defense session of NPHCDA inquired into reasons why the agencies have refused to dialogue with the Professor before dismissing his claims without going through normal scientific measures in ascertaining or disproving such studies, in accordance with world standards.

This is exactly what we are talking about. We are very good at running down our own, and using all kinds of excuses to discourage and dismiss our Nigerian Researchers in finding medicinal cures for deadly diseases like AIDS. While our Nigerian Government Agencies/Institutions are busy using all kinds of bottleneck regulations, practices, policies, bureaucracy, sentiments and unnecessary committees to find faults, discourage, and dismiss claims by Nigerian Scientists and Researchers in finding the cure for the deadly disease – AIDS, a Nanded-based research centre in India has claimed that it has transformed at least 200 cases of HIV positive to HIV negative in the last three years using a patented drug ‘HIV-SJ’.

According to a report published in frihost.com, Director of Siddharth Research Centre cum Hospital, Dr. Siddharth M. Jondhale, told Press Trust of India (PTI) that the drug made out of three herbs he used was patented in India, Europe and some other countries. He has been using the drug on HIV positive patients, including almost terminal aids patients, for the last three years. Jondhale said: “The results are very encouraging with several patients showed gradual improvement in their health subjectively as well as clinically and there were around 4,000 patients under treatment in the institute.”

Now, if this is the situation in India, and a research claim for cure of HIV from one man is allowed to be used on HIV patients without any qualms, how come the situation is different in Nigeria? Why can’t the likes of Maduike Ezeibe, a Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Virology at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abia State, be encouraged and supported in any way possible to see that his claim gets the node needed? Why can’t the Government and its relevant agencies/institutions ensure that his researched drug for the cure of HIV, goes through the process it needs for it to become acceptably used by all? We are very certain that if the said drug is well-developed as it should, Nigeria will become an exporter of the drugs for the dreaded HIV/AIDS disease to Africa and the rest of the world. As it is with the cure for HIV/AIDS, so it is with the cure of other terminal diseases/Illnesses. This will not only boost the country’s image in the international scene, it will also boost the nation’s earnings/economy.

Sadly, all we have been very good at in this country is to import drugs for every kind of disease from countries like India. The same India that are encouraging their own Scientists/Researchers like Dr. Siddharth M. Jondhale to use his findings of an HIV drug on HIV patients for the last three years, and the results are astounding. Why should Nigeria/Nigerians be wasting billions of Naira yearly on imported drugs, when we have the option of encouraging and supporting our own production of such drugs? The Nigerian Government and its relevant Agencies/Institutions seriously need to change their attitude in this area and address this problem; else, we will continue to be a third-world country that is dependent on other nations for its medicinal needs.

 

Zik Gbemre, JP.

National Coordinator

Niger Delta Peace Coalition (NDPC)

No.28, Opi Street, Ugboroke Layout, Effurun-Warri,

P.O. Box 2254, Warri, Delta State, Nigeria.

Tel:       +2348026428271

+2348052106013

Website: www.ndpc-zik.org

We Mobilize Others to Fight for Individual Causes as if Those Were Our Causes

 

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