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23.04.2004 General News

Late Nana Drobo's claim was scientific - Prof Ayisi

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Accra, April 23, GNA - Nana Kofi Ayisi, Professor and Head of the Vitrology Unit of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), has said that the late Nana Kofi Drobo's claim that he discovered anti-HIV/AIDS plants was based on scientific principles.

He said it turned out that Nana Drobo selected his plants for treating HIV/AIDS patients based on the fact that the plants had been found to inhibit cancer cells and if that were true then, Nana Drobo may have been one of the first people to have tested an anticancer agent for its possible anti-AIDS efficacy.

Prof Nana Kofi Ayisi, disclosed this in an inaugural lecture at the University of Ghana, Legon on Thursday on the topic: "Sex, Viruses and Grief: A Deadly Combination that Poses the Greatest Threat to Human Health in the Twenty-First Century".

The Inaugural Lecture invites faculty members of the University, who have attained the highest point of academic achievement, that is, full professorship, to present a lecture on a topic of their choice. Prof Ayisi noted that it was unfortunate that the late Drobo failed to work with NMIMR, having agreed initially, but said the idea of the Ghana Medical Association to investigate the validity of his claim was totally a wrong approach.

He said: "As Noguchi became sidelined in the whole affair, it became clear to some of us that no immediate answers would be found for Nana Drobo's claim".

Prof Ayisi said the unusual events that followed the entire claim, which brought in Japanese delegations, might have confused Nana Drobo as to whether there were really competent scientists in Ghana to work on his discovery.

"However, Nana Drobo is partly to be blamed for not being faithful to the original arrangements I made with him, regarding the involvement of Noguchi, as to whether Nana Drobo's plants really had anti-HIV/AIDS activities or not, no one will ever know, since he is no longer with us," he said.

"Have we as a nation learnt any lesson from the tragic case of Nana Drobo, and what are our plans for pre-clinical and clinical development of claimed anti-HIV medicinal plants? Prof Ayisi asked.

He said, "we could choose to do step by step pre-clinical research before clinical trials and thus bring medical plants into mainstream medical practice".

On the other hand, he said, "we could choose to pursue the currently popular but irresponsible approach of clinical trials without proper prior pre-clinical studies and this condemned the use of medical plants to a field outside mainstream medical practice," Prof Ayisi noted.

"It is not an exaggeration to say that a single medicinal plant that is moved into mainstream medical practice has the potential to pay for the entire health budget of the nation and make the cash and carry system redundant."

In fact an investment in the development of Ghanaian medicinal plants will be the best health insurance for the people of this country," he said.

Prof Ayisi described Nana Drobo as a man, who in spite of not having formal scientific training, was esteemed in some aspects of scientific knowledge.

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