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Nzimande: Africa must invest in researching traditional herbs as medicines

The minister said that processes were under way at the South African Products Authority for the establishment of dedicated structures for the regulation and evaluation of African medicines, clinical trials and their registration for commercial and clinical application.

FILE: Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said that South Africa wanted to ensure that medicinal African herbs were researched on the continent and not by rich nations that would sell them at exorbitant prices.

Nzimande said that the country was part of continental efforts to review the role of traditional medicines in the fight against COVID-19

His remarks come as Madagascar continues to be criticised for its COVID-19 remedy that is still not approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Minister Nzimande said that even with limited resources, African countries must invest in researching traditional herbs used as medicines.

"I is so that these medicines or herbs are researched by rich people from North America and Europe who then register these herbs as if they were European or North American herbs andd then being sold back to us here on the continent of Africa, often at exorbitant prices."

The minister said that processes were under way at the South African Products Authority for the establishment of dedicated structures for the regulation and evaluation of African medicines, clinical trials and their registration for commercial and clinical application.

"We are planning the establishment of an indigenous knowledge-based bio-innovation institute, which will be a precursor to Africa's first plant-based pharmaceutical industry."

Nzimande said that the department placed high value in conducting ethical and responsible research for traditional medicines in partnership with the WHO and traditional healers.