UKZN signs deal with Nigeria’s pharmaceutical agency to research, develop traditional medicines

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The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and Nigeria’s National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) have entered into a partnership to research and develop traditional medicines.

The two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding in Durban on Tuesday.

Chief Executive Officer of the NIPRD, Dr Obi Adigwe, says they will also investigate plans to patent traditional medicines.

“We plan to expedite the harnessing of African plants that have medicinal value into products that are scientifically validated and registered by regulatory authorities. So, what now remains is for us to begin to push this partnership forward so that other African countries can see what Nigeria and South Africa have come up with and join the moving train.”

UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize says through the partnership, they will also assist traditional healers to commercialise their medicines.

He says traditional healers’ indigenous knowledge has been exploited for years without benefit.

“It is very difficult for traditional healers and traditional medicines to get commercialised. If for example, you go to some of the major western countries and more so in the eastern countries such as China, this is a big industry, and it is also informed by science. So we are keen for these products to be commercialised.”

Traditional practitioners call for recognition 

Trading in traditional medicine is a multi-million rand business in South Africa. But the practice is still very much informal, despite the rapid growth of this industry and its potential spinoffs.

In the report below from May last year, traditional medicine practitioners call for recognition of their industry: