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Nigeria can make billions through medical tourism – Cancer Expert

By Bon Peters

A cancer expert, Pharm. (Dr) Elikee Ekenna says Nigeria can make Billions of Naira annually through medical tourism.

Ekenna made this disclosure while fielding questions recently in Emene Enugu state.

He wondered why Nigerians prefer going abroad for treatment of cancers and other life-threatening ailments like Kidney diseases, heart diseases, and diabetes among others, while the cure through natural remedies are readily available even as he said that Nigeria stands to make billions of naira as people from other parts of the world will come for treatment.

Speaking on the synthetic drugs to treat such diseases he said “Some of these chronic and intractable diseases do not respond well to synthetic drugs, that informed my quest for something that would do a lot for us.”

He went further to posit that his organisation, Ekenna Natures Limited, was committed to understanding and finding cures for different diseases ravaging the world today through natural remedies and has been able to achieve incredible results in providing cures for globally acclaimed intractable diseases.

Dr Ekenna, a University of Nigeria Nsukka trained pharmacist insisted that he approached diseases through natural means, employing the use of plants, which according to him, have been able to produce natural drugs in the forms of capsules and pills that combat ailments like cancer, kidney failure and heart diseases.

He disclosed that those plants were thoroughly studied and based on their phytochemical constituents, were used for the drug formulations.

According to Ekenna, “These are diseases when people have them, they look at them as a death sentence, but by God’s grace I have reversed that notion in this centre,” he enthused

Dr Ekenna who has garnered so many awards and recommendations from both local and foreign Universities and organisations explained that his researches were based on scientific information, not university research works.

“It is a personal work which had taken me up to 10 years to compile the phytochemical studies and properties of plants,” he said.

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Talking about his awards, Ekenna disclosed that the last award he got was from an event hosted by the Association of Private Doctors in Nigeria at a conference centre in Abuja, adding that at that conference, he met the former Minister of Health Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who then was a co-awardee.

His words, “I reminded him how I struggled to present my case to him when he was the incumbent Minister of Health but was referred to National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) Abuja, which invited me for a presentation. I had expected to get more from the minister who showed a lot of interest in natural drugs.”

Speaking on the Federal government’s insouciant attitude towards natural drugs, Dr. Ekenna explained that the federal government has shown interest “but what they have done is not very commendable.”

“I have gotten a patent Right certificate from the Federal Government. But in terms of involvement, nothing much has been done on the side of the government. Patent right means that the federal government has to be fully involved having certified the efficacy of whatever we are doing here.

“It takes one man to have an idea or innovation and a whole nation to develop it. If you leave it for one man, he will crumble,” he insisted.

” Federal government had really helped when they assisted my first line drug by paying half of the cost needed,” he said.

Noting that his assistance came as a result of the validation of research work conducted by the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) in conjunction with LUTH, he said, “I had expected more from a nation that should be delving more into the developing areas of medical tourism.”

He went further to urge the government to reverse the trend and look into the plants with high levels of biodiversity and bioavailability even as he stated that over-dependency on Oil is not too good for the country. “We are not only rich in Oil but also active plants.”

Dr Ekenna revealed that he has reservations towards foreign partnerships, adding “I have not been so quick to run into the hands of foreign agencies, being a drug expert I know the implications. It is easy to sell yourself for a pot of porridge. I have tried to assess myself to see if I can make it as indigenous as possible.”

Taking a walk down memory lane, Dr Ekenna, looking back at how he started acknowledged God for restoring his health when he was diagnosed with a deadly disease during his years in the university. After this, he got inspired and resorted to using plants around him to make drugs.

“I will say that God has been and will continue to be the foundation of this world. I had my own personal problems when I was in the university and how God delivered me made me think otherwise,” he said.

He added, “Having suffered from a disease which pharmacy I was studying at that time could not help me, I was thinking about what next to do but God healed me. God helped me establish a formula that can cure diseases”.

Still giving Glory to God, Dr Ekenna said that his growth was beyond what he had expected it to be, attributing it to hardwork, consistency, discipline and a special Grace from God.

In a bid to clear the stereotypical notion of natural drugs always seen as diabolical, Dr Ekenna pointed out the difference between herbal and natural drugs.

According to him, “We have herbal and natural drugs. Natural medicine is more encompassing while herbal medicine is just herbs, ours is a scientific natural medicine which is scientifically derived with the plants studied and packaged in capsules, pills and extracts with the signs of posology; basic systems applied. So that makes a huge difference between what we do here and what we know about herbal medicine.”

He advised that the use of basic systems, where the appropriate dosage is given should be employed in the creation of herbal drugs.

Cancers and diseases being ailments that are not particular to only a set of demography, Dr Ekenna assures that his drugs are suitable for anyone suffering from those diseases except leukaemia which they are yet to establish a protocol to boast of.

“We are here for you if you have kidney disease, kidney stone, liver disease, heart diseases, cancer of all sorts except leukaemia which we have not really established a protocol we can boast of at the moment,” he said pointing out some instances of cancers which had been cured completely by those drugs.

Dr Ekenna targets to establish Nigeria as a medical tourist centre for all nations of the world.

“We have the capacity to do that, we use 100% natural drugs from the soil of this country, we just need to apply our science to these plants,” he said.

Ekenna who made known his stance at a public hearing on the passing of the Bill on natural medicine, where he said he defended the bill, stated that the Bill if passed into Law would benefit every sector and the nation’s foreign reserve would increase.

“We are not only rich in oil but also in bio-active plants,” he added.

Dr Ekenna, therefore, called on the Federal government to invest in natural medicine as it would not only benefit the nation’s health but create possible employment for the youths. He went on to encourage universities to adopt and add to their curriculum the practical aspect of courses, reiterating that once schools are practically inclined, new innovation and creative ideas would sprout.

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