Senior Health Reporter
President Mnangagwa yesterday called on Zimbabwean scientists and innovators to leverage on traditional natural herbs like Zumbani in developing new products in the biotechnology industry.
The President said this as he launched a new cough syrup developed by the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA).
The cough syrup, Cofsol, is a local product composed of Zumbani (Lippia-Javanica), which has been used by many Zimbabweans in the fight against colds, flu and of-late, Covid-19.
Speaking during the simultaneous launch of the cough medicine as well as the National Biotechnology Authority’s Strategic Plan for 2021-2025, the President said the research and development of the new technologies should result in more traditional medicines, food and beverages on the market.
The launch also coincided with the 15th anniversary of the Authority.
“Given the health-promoting properties of indigenous plants, I challenge the National Biotechnology Authority, other institutions of higher learning and the private sector, complemented by our skilled human capital, to use their scientific knowledge and innovation for furthering research and development in traditional medicines. The manufacturing of more products using our locally available natural endowments should be prioritised,” President Mnangagwa said.
He said the development was a step towards enhanced scientific research and innovations and growing the country’s pharmaceutical industry and challenged stakeholders to venture into contract farming and the use of bio-technological innovations to ensure the consistent availability of the primary ingredients of the Cofsol syrup.
The President said the new innovation was evidence of the potential of the heritage-based Education 5.0 policy and called on the pharmaceutical sector to shift away from wholesaling and retailing drugs produced in other countries.
“The time has come for the sector to vigorously pursue and invest in the manufacturing of our own drugs and medicines. Concerted efforts must be made to dedicate personnel and experts to achieve this objective.
“The potential of Zumbani and other traditional plants, whose value addition potential is under-exploited, remains essential. As you have demonstrated today, the sector must explore research and development around many more plants and natural products occurring within our country.
“I also expect you to move up the value chain and graduate towards the development of intermediate value-added products, including extracts for the food, beverages and phyto-pharmaceutical market,” he said.
He said the production of these products would not only serve the domestic market but take advantage of other trade arrangements on the global market.
“My Government recognises the role of bio-technology in transforming the lives and livelihoods of our people through the production of food, medicinal drugs and industrial products, among others. The sector will, therefore, continue to receive support from my Government as a key pillar that should boost our national development within the socio-economic spectrum,” said the President.
He applauded the NBA for coming up with the National Biotechnology Strategy, which is aligned to the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS-1) and talks to the aspirations and goals of the Second Republic.
“The implementation of the Strategy by a re-invigorated National Biotechnology Authority should give impetus to unlocking the full potential of biotechnology and ensure that Zimbabwe fully embraces the gains associated with the industry.
“This should also see the nation producing heritage-based goods and services as well as developing multi-pronged solutions from the vast array of our abundant natural resources,” President Mnangagwa added.
He encouraged all industry stakeholders to work together to ensure the availability of affordable medicines leveraging biomedical engineering and science as well as bio-pharmaceutical production, among other aspects.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said Zimbabwe has an abundance of indigenous biological material which could be used to orient and reorient the country’s bio-economy and the economy at large.
“Once we deliberately get to the level when we realise that the local bio-economy shall be based primarily on indigenous biological materials, this economy will grow with unparalleled competitive advantage. Our main goal is to make sure the NBA contributes to Vision 2030,” he said.