A Medical Research Council (MRC) can help in solving health challenges locally.

NIMR DG: Nigeria Needs A Medical Research Council

According to the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Babatunde Salako, the establishment of a Medical Research Council (MRC) will help provide opportunities to solve health challenges locally.

Mr. Salako said this while speaking during a meeting with stakeholders in Abuja on Tuesday, noting that the research council will also address funding challenges restricting research in the country.

He said countries with existing medical research councils have opportunities to focus on the variance of health challenges.

“Globally, the medical research council funds medical research and the advantage is that countries, where they exist, can actually focus on the variance of health challenges that are affecting the people and providing solutions,” he said.

Mr. Salako noted that health research contributes most to human development worldwide; hence the government must key into it.

“If you take care of health, you have probably taken care of all SDG indices because health is central to them. A nation with good health and high life expectancy is likely to have a good healthy workforce that will build and improve the economy in all ramifications.”

Mr. Salako said Nigeria had always depended more on donor funding for health research activities and approximately 70 percent of medical research in the country was donor-funded, while the remaining 30 percent comes from within.

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The DG explained that the lack of adequate funding for medical research is responsible for the poor health indices in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, “The funding provided is not enough to address our challenges, perhaps the reason for our poor indices, maternal mortality, and under-five mortality.”

“We know the diseases that are responsible for this, so if we have funding to address those challenges, we will certainly be able to involve the development of new drugs, new vaccines, new approaches to treatment, new prevention, and this can only come from evidence from research.”

He said if the council was established, implemented, and well-funded, the country could focus directly on its health challenges, “If we have a council that is well funded that can focus on research, within the next five years, we will begin to see solutions to our problems.”

According to the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health, Tanko Sununu, globally, medical research was a multi-billion investment and it would greatly benefit Nigerians if the government prioritises and invests in medical research.

He said the council when established, would coordinate funds for medical research in the country.

Nkiru Ukor, a representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nkiru Ukor, stated that the move to establish a research council is in line with WHO’s mandate to power health and research, stating that the health agency would continue supporting NIMR and the Nigerian government.