Experts Call For Research
Scientists have called for more research grants to enable them collate data to enhance the government’s policies in the health sector.
They spoke at the Nigeria Research Trust Award organised by AstraZeneca Research Trust in Lagos.
The experts underscored the need for more research to know the health indices of Nigeria to enhance social and economic development, especially health care planning.
Besides, data generated from research are often used to formulate government policies.
Chairman, Scientific Review Committee of the awards, Prof Folasade Ogunsola, said research conducted often culminate in knowledge, and as such, provide necessary information for growth.
She blamed Nigeria for not investing in data.
According to her, Nigeria has a lot information on HIV/AIDS because there were data on the disease.
This, she said, was made possible by various researches that were conducted.
“Since 2007, the Presdent Emergency Fund for HIV/AIDS Research was given to universities and local governments, among others, and they developed data, which have been passed to the centre,” she said.
Ogunsola said lack of data to plan health care is one of the country’s great problems.
“Everybody is guessing what the situation with malaria is because there is no national data on it. This is because we have not committed serious fund to research. The United States through the National Institute on Health (NIH) commits billions of dollars to health research, in terms of what is going on and new medications, and new understanding of disease processes.These are no cheap and if people knew the answer they would not be doing the research. At the end of it people may still not get the answer. But, we have to keep trying,” she said.
Moreover, the more money that goes into the funding of research, the better for the country.
She said what the committee was looking for was a standardised data that cut across all regions/geo-political zones. “As at now, what we have are fragmented data and to bring them together is difficult because they were arrived at, using different methodologies. We do not want a single hospital data,” she said.
“We are looking at communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). But we are not focusing solely on NCDs because we still have major problems with communicable diseases. This is still a major problem with data on communicable diseases. This year’s grant is on communicable and NCDs. Next year, we might face just NCDs,” she said.
A member of the committee, Dr Funmi Lesi, said one of the major data base in the country is on HIV and AIDS.
She said this had helped the government to plan and make innovation for health care.
AstraZeneca Business Unit Lead, William Prinsloo, said the health challenges in Africa were increasing rapidly while the health status of Africans remained far worse than that of some people in developing regions.
He continued: “Although a lack of access to health care and serious health system deficiencies are important reasons for this phenomenon, other elements aggravate it. One of them being insufficient research and development aimed at addressing Africa’s unmet health needs.”
The trust fund, he said, supports local academic medical research in non-communicable diseases (NCDs), focusing particularly on cardiovascular/metabolic, respiratory and oncology conditions.
He said the company spent $350,000 yearly on researchers in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
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