The federal government has said no COVID-19 patient will be released to herbal practitioners to test the efficacy of their drugs.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, made the stance known at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.
Mr Ehanire said many traditional medicines being suggested as cure for COVID-19 had not been tested and might be toxic.
“On the cure of COVID-19, the traditional medicines that people said they had, we have referred them to Traditional Complementary Medicine 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.
“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,” he said.
The Nigerian government has been advised to follow the steps of other Africa countries by trying some herbal medicines in treating COVID-19 patients.
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Last Month, the Madagascan President, Andry Rajoelina, launched a herbal remedy that he said could prevent and cure patients infected with the virus. Countries like Tanzania, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, and the Republic of Congo have indicated interest in the herbal remedy.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) however said it did not recommend “self-medication with any medicines as a prevention or cure for COVID-19”.
The health agency said there is “no short-cuts” to finding effective medication to fight COVID-19.
Mr Ehanire said all herbal medicines must go through the research cycle to ensure they are not toxic.
He also said such drugs will first be tested on animals before it can be certified.
“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.
“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,” he said.