By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Nigeria and India are seeking closer collaboration on alternative medicine practices in the treatment of ailments and management of COVID-19 as India marked the fifth anniversary of Ayurveda Day on Friday.
Ayurveda is India’s alternative and traditional healthcare practice using local herbs as amla, turmeric, among others, in the practice of medicine.
The anniversary was commemorated by the Indian High Commission in Abuja to highlight the contributions of Ayurvedic medical practices to human health and the fight against COVID-19.
The commission also launched the Ministry of External Affairs, Economic Diplomacy Division’s ”Protocol on Ayurveda and Yoga for Management of COVID-19.”
Speaking at the event, Nigeria’s Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Olusegun Ogboye, commended India’s collaboration with Nigeria in the promotion of Ayurveda practice in Nigeria.
Ogboye, who was represented by Zainab Shariff, the Director, Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department (TCAM) in the ministry, noted that Nigeria had built robust bilateral relations and cooperation with the Indian government in the promotion and development of Ayurveda and other Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practices in the country.
He stated that the collaboration had yielded positive results in TCAM practice in Nigeria following the signing of an MoU with India, after a study tour on the operational model of India’s traditional healthcare system, AYUSH, by Nigerian officials in 2008.
The exposure, he said, was foundational to the ministry’s successful approval of the establishment of the Council of TCAM, to ensure proper coordination and regulation of CAM practices in Nigeria.
“We assure you of Nigerian government’s willingness to provide continuous support and strengthening of collaboration with India’’, he said. Acknowledging the importance of CAM practice, Shariff, commended India’s development, modernization and deployment of its 5,000 years old traditional medicinal practice in the fight against COVID-19.
She said as nations race to provide a vaccine for the coronavirus, alternative sources, beyond modern pharmaceutical solutions should be explored.
“You cannot be in the laboratory alone. We all have to start somewhere. Whether we like it or not, medicine has political, economic and social meaning. “While waiting for a vaccine, we must look for alternatives. Nature cannot stay in a vacuum; something has to fill that space and during this pandemic, Ayurveda has done that.
“The greatest pride of a nation is when it admires the values of its tradition. Tradition in the sense of a traditional healthcare system which we see today through traditional medicine or traditional roots. This speaks well of India,” Shariff said.
In a national address earlier streamed live and replayed at the High Commission, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the establishment of two Ayurveda institutions, the Institute of Teaching & Research in Ayurveda ITRA at Jamnagar, and the National Institute of Ayurveda NIA, Jaipur.
Modi urged both institutes to take up the additional responsibilities bestowed upon them by the upgrade to craft an internationally standard Ayurveda syllabus, while urging private sector start-ups to tap into the Ayurveda global market.
The high point of the event was the launch by Nigeria-based Indian Brand, Darbur’s, of its latest range of Ayurvedic-inherent medicinal and sanitary products to help consumers in the fight against COVID-19.
The eight-paged handbook details Ayurvedic medical prescriptions for the various symptoms of COVID-19, from mild to asymptomatic, in addition to prescriptions to boost the immune system against contracting the virus.