The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has emphasised the importance of establishing a Medical Research Council (MRC) to address the country’s health challenges.
During a stakeholders’ meeting held in Abuja, the director-general of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako highlighted the potential of the MRC in solving local health issues and overcoming funding limitations in medical research.
Salako explained that countries with existing medical research councils have the advantage of focusing on the specific health challenges affecting their populations and finding effective solutions. By establishing an MRC, Nigeria can prioritize research efforts and allocate resources to tackle its unique health issues.
He further emphasised the critical role of health research in global human development. Salako urged the new administration to recognise the significance of healthcare, as improvements in health indicators contribute to overall societal progress and economic growth.
Currently, Nigeria heavily relies on donor funding for medical research, with approximately 70 per cent of research activities being donor-funded. The remaining 30 per cent is supported domestically. Insufficient funding for medical research has been a major obstacle, resulting in poor health indicators such as high rates of maternal and under-five mortality.
Salako stressed that addressing these challenges requires increased funding to develop new drugs, vaccines, treatment approaches, and prevention strategies. He expressed confidence that with adequate funding, the country can significantly improve its health outcomes.
The establishment of a well-funded council dedicated to medical research would enable Nigeria to focus directly on its health challenges. Salako stated that within the next five years of implementing and supporting such a council, tangible solutions to the country’s health problems could be expected.
The chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health, Dr. Tanko Sununu highlighted that medical research is a lucrative global investment. He urged the Nigerian government to prioritize and invest in medical research, which would yield substantial benefits for the Nigerian population.
During the event, a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Nkiru Ukor expressed support for the establishment of a research council. Ukor stated that the move aligns with WHO’s mandate to promote health and research. The WHO pledged to continue collaborating with NIMR and the Nigerian government to advance medical research in the country.
The establishment of a medical research council holds tremendous potential for Nigeria to address its unique health challenges. By prioritizing and adequately funding medical research, the country can expect significant improvements in its health indicators and overall development. Collaboration and support from international organisations like the WHO further strengthen these efforts.