Prof. Abubakar: Most Health Research Funding in Nigeria Haphazard

By Hassan John

 

The Dean of the UCL Faculty of Population Health Sciences, University College, London, Prof. Ibrahim Abubakar, has raised concern that most funding for health research in Nigeria is not well structured which comes through allocation to particular institutes and agencies.

This, he, said cannot yield the right result as far health research is concerned.

Responding to questions in an interview in Abuja, Nigeria,  Abubakar who is a Professor in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, called for the establishment of Medical Research Council/Health Research Council.

The Council when established will be responsible for coordinating and sourcing for funds for medical research in the country.

“Today most funding of research in this country comes not in a structured way but through allocation to particular institutes and agencies.

“What this proposal will do is that we are able to get a dedicated source of funding that will identify the best science and the best things that will add value to people’s lives in health and ensure that whether you sit in the university or one of the research institute, the best scientists are funded to solve our problems.

“Without doing that what  we  up end with direct allocation to individual groups or institutes where as in this new model it will allow government to direct funding to the places where the answers are,” he said.

Also speaking on the need for a functional body that will coordinate medical research activities in Nigeria, the Director General of the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research, Prof. Babatunde Lawal Salako, said that most countries of the world grow fast and tackle their health challenges  because they have functional  research bodies.

“In most modern successful countries, they have functional research and development which is anchored by a health research agency.

“I give you example of the international institute of health in the US and Medical Research Council in the UK both of them essentially do the same.

“For most African countries, only a few do have this kind of bodies providing specific funding for health research.”

While lamenting the lack of dedicated funding for medical research, Prof. Salako said:  “For us in Nigeria research has not been adequately funded even though government is funding research through TETfund. TETfund is restricted to tertiary institution alone. The universities to be specific. It covers all forms of research.

“But the example I have given are specific for health because research in health has been shown to contribute most to human development in  terms of ensuring high life expectancy, good life health indices like maternal mortality, neonatal mortality, infant mortality and things like that.

“So, we believe that the best thing that could happen to Nigeria is for Nigeria to create its own medical research council which first function will be to fund health research specifically for all health researchers in the country from the universities to research institutes and other institutions.

“If this happens, we believe that we will be able to provide local solutions through funding of peculiar  health challenges within Nigeria  to be able to solve these problems,” Prof. Salako said.

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