Government has been urged to invest in medical plants and include it in the Planting for Food and Job Programme to boost the pharmaceutical industry in the country.
Professor Yaw Opoku-Boahen, a Professor of Natural Products Organic Chemistry at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), who made the call said Ghana had the potential to grow the pharmaceutical industry by planting herbs that had the properties of aspirin, quine, artesunate among others.
Prof Opoku-Boahen was delivering his inaugural lecture on the topic “Phytochemistry: My Contribution to the Search for Biologically Active Compounds at the UCC on Wednesday.
He said investing in medical plants production could create employment for the teeming number of unemployed youths to reduce unemployment in the country.
“The plant kingdom should be a prospective and fruitful hunting ground for new tumour inhibition compounds. This has been illustrated by the isolation, characterisation and structural elucidation of several anticancer agents from catharanthus roseus”, he noted
Speaking on the antimalaria properties of some of the plants, Prof Opoku-Boahen said recent report indicated that the malaria parasite may be developing a degree of resistance to synthetic drugs which may return the quine alkaloids to their position of former importance as therapeutic agents.
According to him, malaria was still a disease of importance in many parts of the world and underscored the need to ensure the availability of safe and effective drugs for it treatment.
Prof Opoku-Boahen underscored the need for organic chemistry to be made compulsory at the senior high school level, adding that, organic chemistry was important because it was the study of life and all of the chemical reactions related to life.
“Several careers apply to the understanding of organic chemistry, such as doctors, veterinarians, dentists, pharmacologists, chemical engineers, and chemists.
“Organic chemistry plays a part in the development of common household chemicals, foods, plastics, drugs, fuels and most of the chemicals part of daily life” he said
Prof Opoku-Boahen called on the government to support his Department with the needed equipment for advanced research.
This way, he said the university would be able to undertake cutting edge research that would push the frontier of science and be counted among the best institutions in Africa for the study of chemistry.