The University of Jos has been described as an institution that has set itself the goal of being a research-led, top class university in Africa. This is indicative of its emergence with a Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science as an African Center of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research and Development (ACEPRD) in 2014.
The University is said to be one out of ten Africa Centres of Excellence in Nigeria and also one out of twenty-three in the West African Sub-region with an $8 million World Bank support and its equivalent matching grant from the University.
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Hayward Mafuyai, disclosed this on Tuesday at the Hill Station Hotel, Jos, at the International Conference on Phytomedicine Research and Development, with the theme: “Global Trends in Phytomedicine Research and Development.”
He said this has increasingly projected and enriched the global visibility of the institution by providing opportunities for the training of both staff and students, especially at post-graduate level.
According to him, “Today, in pursuit of quality knowledge and strengthening training, in order to tap into the huge biodiversity in the continent in the area of plant derived medicines, the Centre for Excellence is playing host to global scholars, researchers, students and stakeholders at this International Conference, the first of its kind.”
He said, “The paradigm shift in the interventions of available herbs for the treatment of diseases has led to a global demand for plant derived medicines, which research has reveals that the world market for phytomedicine is estimated to be over $100 billion annually.”
He urged Africa to be in the forefront of this phytomdicine research, development and commercialization for the benefit of the society.
According to him, the way to go about it “is for our University to take the leadership role to integrate traditional medicine fully unto the health care delivery system in the region as well as overcome the challenges involved, which among them, are the depletion of herbs of medicinal value due to deforestation, inadequate authentication, documentation and comprehensive databases of flora in the sub region.
He said, already, the ACEPRD has evaluated potential anti-convulsants, anti-fertility, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial and anti-snake venom plant extracts.
Prof Mafuyai said, one hundred and fifty students are currently being sponsored to undertake post-graduate studies at the Masters and Doctorate levels in Phytomedicine Research and Development, which 27 of them are on international students from Benin Republic, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Togo, Liberia and DRC.
Speaking also, the deputy governor of the state, Prof Sonni G. Tyoden, assured the institution that the state government will assist through the provision of enabling environment and some essential equipment for the University’s Faculty of Agriculture, which will hopefully enhance research and teaching.
He said the need to provide expertise in the health care delivery system and integrate traditional medicine is very crucial to established efficacy in the treatment of diseases, adding that, practitioners and students should be trained, especially in the area of phytomedicine, on ways to standardize traditional medicine practitioners.
Prof Tyoden cautioned them to ensure that quacks do not invade and adulterate the ideals of their innovations and service delivery, which would be deleterious to both humans and the environment in general.