Officials of two leading institutions under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have confirmed the efficacy of Tetrapleura tetraptera, popularly known as ‘Prekese,’ in the control of hypertension, a major cause of death in the country.
They are the Food Research Institute (FRI) and the Forestry Research Institute (FRI).
The heads of the two institutions, Prof. Charles Tortoe of Food Research and Prof. Daniel Ofori, of the Forestry Research, made the confirmation when the Ministry of Science and Technology appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament yesterday (Feb. 3).
Other agencies that appeared before the PAC included the Building and Roads Research Institute, Soil Research Institute, Crop Research Institute, National Population Council, Ghana Aids Commission and the Ghana Supply Company.
Professor Charles Tortoe (right), Director of CSIR-Food Research Institute, speaking at PAC sitting in Accra. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Answering a question from the Chairman of the PAC, Dr James Klutse Avedzi, on the health benefits of Prekese, Prof, Tortoe began by explaining that the plant was one of the many indigenous plants that could be found in the country.
“With the information we have on prekese, it is very good for health and we have got studies that have also come out to say that for people who are suffering from hypertension, is very good and controls it (their hypertension) and it is working.
“So in our facility, we have this product coming from our sister institute, the Forestry Research Institute, that is giving us samples that we sell and so we have the Prekese syrup which we sell in our shop for the public to take,” he said.
Asked again by Dr Avedzi whether the product was produced in large quantities for access to members of the public, Prof. Tortoe said it was produced at the FRI in Kumasi and that the FRI took samples from it to sell to the public.
Responding to a question from Dr Avedzi on whether the FRI would need support to produce more Prekese syrup, Prof. Ofori said yes, “please we need support to build a big facility and then we also need support to import some equipment that we need in the processing of Prekese syrup.”
He said if the FRI could get some facilities or support from the government or the private sector it would go a long way to help.
He said although there is Prekese syrup on the market produced by some individuals, “the quality that people attest to is that CSIR Prekese syrup is the best”
Throwing further light on the health benefits of the product in an interview with the Daily Graphic, Prof. Ofori noted that people who had used the syrup had confirmed an improvement in their health situation.
“So this is a confirmation from our clients and this also leads to more people coming to us to ask of the syrup so it is confirmed that it has health benefits. But we don’t sell it as a medicine but as a food supplement,” he emphasised.
Explaining further, he said the syrup had also received the approval of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and that the number of the authority could be found on it.
“So it means that it has gone through screening and approved by the FDA,” he said, adding that what was needed at the moment was capital to put up a big factory for large- scale production.
Asked to confirm if Prekese indeed reduces high blood pressure, Prof. Ofori gave a simple but instructive answer: “ yes”.
Earlier, Prof. Tortoe told the committee, among other things, that during 2019 year under review, the institute’s commercialisation surplus went down due to challenges it had during its commercial activities.
Mainly, he said that was due to its processing equipment as it was using its old equipment and had to deal with the challenges of breakdown.
Explaining why the FRI moved from surplus to deficit in between 2017 and 2018, in response to a question from a member of the committee, Sam George, Prof. Ofori said for 2018 donor funding went down.
In 2018 too, he said the institute had to undertake a lot of repairs and maintenance.
The PAC has been sitting for two weeks to consider the report of the Auditor-General on the public accounts of public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions for the year ending 2020.