A professor of Natural Products Chemistry, Professor Yaw Opoku-Boahen, has underscored the need to invest in medicinal plants to create jobs for the teeming youth in the country.
Prof. Opoku-Boahen said research had shown that certain medicinal plants could heal chronic diseases such cancer, malaria and HIV/Aids.
“Taxol from Pacific Yew is effective in the treatment of various forms of cancer such as ovarian, pancreatic, cervical, lung and breast cancers” he mentioned. According to him Calanolide A and Canolide B obtained from Calophyllum Teysmanii has been discovered as anti HIV/AIDS drug.
Prof. Opoku-Boahen made these statements when he delivered an inaugural lecture on the topic “Phytochemistry: My Contribution to the Search for Biologically Active Compounds”
Prof. Opoku-Boahen said in many parts of the world, malaria continued to attract attention and therefore it was necessary to ensure the availability of safe and effective drugs for the treatment of the disease. He 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,” he noted.
The Professor of Natural Products Chemistry called for the need to pay serious attention to the study of Organic Chemistry. “At the SHS level you don’t need straight Organic Chemistry to pass, so most students avoid that particular portion of the syllabus, what they do is just study the nomenclature that’s the naming of organic compounds” he said.
He also said inadequate funding and lack of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment was hampering the study of the discipline in most institutions. “The unavailability of funds makes standards to be compromised and students have also lost interest in the discipline”, he noted, adding that “To train a single person in Organic Chemistry is equivalent to training 5,000 people in other science related disciplines.”
Prof. Opoku-Boahen called on management of the University to make efforts to purchase the needed laboratory equipment to facilitate the teaching and research in the Department of Chemistry. He said with such equipment, the Department would be able to produce groundbreaking research to provide solutions to some challenges affecting the nation in the areas of health, petrochemical industry, water and sanitation and the environment in general. “With a little financial support the Department of Chemistry will become a Centre of Excellence for teaching, research and enterprise, “he assured.