By Chioma Umeha
To ensure national development and effective response to disease outbreaks, Nigerian scientists and their counterparts from the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) have advocated adequate funding of innovative medical research.
Specifically, the scientists urged the three tiers of government, international and private organisations to provide adequate fund for innovative medical research to promote national development.
The scientists, who spoke at the fourth International Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Lagos, maintained that research was the greatest engine for human development.
In his remarks at the Conference which had the theme: “Funding Health Research: In A Depressed Economy”, Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson, a Professor of Translational Medicine, St. Mary’s Hospital Campus, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom, said that funding medical research was very key and crucial in the healthcare system.
Taylor-Robinson further said that proper funding of health research was a guarantee for effective healthcare delivery in the country.
“Funding health research in Nigerian health institutions will give researchers more ideas on how to detect and investigate surveillance diseases.
“It is time for all levels of government to improve on their support to the institute,” he said
He therefore encouraged Nigeria and other countries to at least devote one per cent of its GDP to medical research as it would improve healthcare delivery, save lives and reduce mortality.
On his part, Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director- General of NIMR, who noted that research was critical in public health as well as every other aspect of medicine, said biomedical research alone was capable of unravelling life mysteries and translating discoveries to sound health and economic prosperity.
He said medical research in developed countries like the US had generated effective drugs for lowering cholesterol, controlling blood pressure, and dissolving artery-clogging blood clots.
Reasoning that research has led to the emergence of new techniques for heart attack prevention, including, lifestyle changes that promote cardiovascular health, the NIMR boss stressed that it would address the challenges facing the country’s health sector.
Salako said: “The global progress of the last few decades in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has shown that research and innovation are the only sure pathway to sustainable development.
“NIMR, as the foremost institute of medical research in the country, should be well positioned to contribute her quota toward conducting innovative research that will engender national development.
“The conduct of medical research should not be viewed as a liability to the nation, but should be seen as a veritable tool that can be used to attain economic development and self-reliance.
“Many developed nations have demonstrated to the world that research is the greatest engine for human development and a nation,” Salako said.
Similarly, Prof. Oladosu Ojengbede, an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, called for a national health research policy that would harmonise all research activities in the country.
The Obstetrician urged corporate bodies, organisations and international donors to support the funding of health research to eliminate some diseases affecting the health of Nigerians.
Ojengbede, who works with the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, said that availability of funding for research purpose would promote application of knowledge for massive development of the country’s health sector.
“Private sector is at a vintage position to drive research development,’’ he said, noting that research and innovation were individually driven in any part of the world.