..urges FG to increase funding for new drug development.
Bankole Taiwo, Abeokuta
The Vice-Chancellor of Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Prof Peace Chinedum Babalola who just won the African Union (AU) Kwame Nkrumah Awards for Scientific Excellence at the just concluded 33rd African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has urged Nigerian government to increase it’s funding for the health sector, most importantly development of drugs for the country.
Prof. Babalola disclosed that Nigeria needs about $2 billion to detect, diagnose and develop drugs to fight epidemics like the Coronavirus calling on the federal government to as a matter of urgency increase its budgetary provision for the health sector for Nigerians to enjoy qualitative health care.
The Vice-Chancellor who made this call at a press conference held at the university on Wednesday insisted that government must be proactive in fighting epidemics like the Ebola virus, Lassa fever and the Coronavirus.
The Professor of Pharmaceutical Science stressed the need for the provision of adequate funding of research centres and scientists in the development of new drugs to tackle diseases in the country, lamenting that Nigeria had become a dumping ground for all sorts of foreign developed medicines.
She noted that the process of discovering and development of new drugs required huge funds and time and “Nigeria needs to inject money to ensure that scientists are working round the clock to develop drugs and vaccines to fight diseases and outbreak of epidemics.”
Babalola who commended the Federal government for taking preventive measures at the various ports of entry to ensure that Coronavirus does not enter the country but quickly added, “We should show more commitment and we should spend more.”
“It will cost about 2 billion dollars to develop one medicine to fight a disease so Nigeria needs to think seriously about funding researches on the development of new drugs. For scientists to discover drugs and vaccines is not an easy task. To produce one medicine, it can take us 10 to 15 years.”
“And if the Federal government has promised N36million for the discovery of drug or vaccine for Coronavirus treatment, for me, that may just help in doing the checks and balances or they (Federal government) can inject that into a laboratory to help us to detect and diagnose a disease.
“Even when you are detecting and diagnosing a disease, one of the equipments you need may cost N36million. But let us appreciate them (Federal government) for starting with something”, she added.
“But they should find out more centres in different geopolitical zones and devote more resources. Some of these centres can be set up in both private and public institutions.”
“We have a lot of institutes, a lot MDAs in the country, we have Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research, we have Nigeria Institute for Medical Researches such centres should be empowered.”
“We should not wait until emergencies come, there should be readiness every time, we have the Nigeria Disease Control that kind of centre should be empowered to tackle health emergencies.”
“Nigeria is not lacking in platforms to work, it is just empowerment and commitment by government and the private sector that is lacking”, the Vice Chancellor said.
She called for the promotion of participation of more girls and women in science, saying “We need more women innovators in Nigeria.”