The Federal Government has mandated the National Institute for Medical Research and the College of Medicine, Ibadan to do proper study of the two claims to HIV cure in the country.
This mandate comes upon the heels of a statement by Nigerian university professor, Francis Otunta of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, claiming that a drug for the treatment and cure of HIV/AIDS has been discovered.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, disclosed this on Monday in Ilorin at the Federal Government Town Hall meeting for the North Central Zone.
A Nigeria university don, Prof. Maduike Ezeibe, recently claimed to have found a cure for the virus.
The minister, who was responding to questions on the position of government on the claims, said getting a cure would be of public health interest to the country.
According to him, Nigeria has about three million people infected with HIV, the second highest number in the world after South Africa.
The minister, however, said that there were modalities recognised globally for disclosure of cure which must be followed.
"What we need to do is to make sure that things are done properly.
"The process to undertake is the animal experiment to be sure it is efficacious and safe before moving to human.
"At the appointed time when we have the results, we shall come public," he said.
Adewole said that the government was close to achieving the promise to make 10,000 Primary Health Care (PHC) service centres available to Nigerians.
He disclosed that the European Union was investing in 650 PHC centres and the British government was funding 950.
The minister said the FCT Administration was working to replicate the Federal Government model of PHC centre in the 225 wards in the territory.
The Vice Chancellor of the institution located at Umudike in Abia state, announced the discovery of a drug which he claims is potent in the cure of the epidemic.
Otunta told newsmen at the university campus on Wednesday, February 1, that the finding followed years of scientific research by the institution.
He said that the breakthrough was made by Prof Maduike Ezeibe, a researcher in the university.
According to him, Ezeibe had presented the drug to the University management, Senate and Council, where he explained the processes he went through to arrive at his finding.
The VC also said that Ezeibe had equally presented the drug to his colleagues in the medical field and nobody had contradicted his finding.
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“Prof. Ezeibe is a researcher in Veterinary Medicine and one may wonder how he discovered a drug to cure a human ailment,” he said.
He commended Ezeibe for the breakthrough, saying: “He has brought honour to the University and we are proud of him.”
Otunta said that the university was in the process of mass producing the drug for further clinical trials on persons living with HIV/AIDS in the country.
Ezeibe, who is a professor of Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Virology, said that the drug was produced with Aluminum Silicate and Magnesium Silicate (Synthetic Aluminum-Magnesium Silicate).
He said that the two minerals “are already in use as medicines for the treatment of various animal and human diseases”.
He said that 10 persons living with the disease, “who volunteered’’, were made to apply through their doctor to the VC.
“They were treated daily with the Medicinal Synthetic Aluminum-Magnesium Silicate (50 mg/kg),” he said.
Ezeibe said that the volunteers were subjected to monthly tests for viral loads and CD4-lymphocyte counts.
“With the antiviral effects of the medicine, its ability to reach all cells (as nanoparticles) and the lymphocytes, there is no more hiding place (sanctuary) for HIV,” he said.
He said that the medicine had been used to potentiate Ampicilin, Chloroquine, Piperazine and Sulphadimidin, among others, and could be a major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria, if approved by relevant authorities.
According to him, “local and international medical companies will find the product as a veritable raw material”.
Ezeibe said that he presented the research findings to the World Virology Conference in Atlanta in 2015, and Antonio (Texas) in 2016.
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Besides, he said that the results of the laboratory tests had been published in many international scientific journals, including the British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research, among several others.
He said that he is also about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a U.S.-based Scientific Research Publishing, publishers of World Journal of AIDS, for the publication of his book “How I came about the cure for HIV/AIDS”.
Ezeibe, who said that the medicine was patented in August 2014 in Nigeria, called on the Federal Government to help him to secure international patency for the drug.
He said: “If commercialised, the Medicinal Synthetic Aluminum-Magnesium Silicate would become an alternative for petroleum to the Nigerian economy.”
While the professor may be entitled to his claim, hundreds of such claims are announced every year by scientists claiming to have found a cure to the deadly disease. However, there are standards criteria which demands rigorous clinical tests which have to be verified by various layers of health organisations. But in this case, none have been reported, so it is likely that the discovery is fake as nothing is yet confirmed.The Nigerian minister of health, has also denied knowledge of the claim.