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‘Why Nigeria needs a Medical Research Council’

The Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Babatunde Salako, has called for the establishment of a medical research council in the…

The Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Babatunde Salako, has called for the establishment of a medical research council in the country.

He said doing so would help improve funding for health research in the country, which will further scale up home-grown solutions to the peculiar health needs in the country.

Speaking yesterday during a stakeholders meeting organised by NIMR in Abuja, he said establishing direct funding for health research in Nigeria via a dedicated medical research council would increase the availability and use of high-quality research that translates into policy adoption to drive impact towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and increase the return on investment (ROI) on research.

He said other benefits of Nigeria’s investment in the medical research council are: “Scalable, modular national/subnational learning platforms that enable the spread of innovations across the value chain of cost-effective, quality research design and execution.

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“Ensure that the number of Nigerian universities/research institutes that are successful lead/direct grantees of domestic and non-domestically funded research, is increased in the nearest future.

 “Ensure increase in the number of policy briefs emanating from local research evidence and innovations.”

Salako also said, “We know very well that these indices are poor in Nigeria and the more reason that we can attribute to it is inadequate funding for health research and for the health system itself.

 “Health research provides innovation, solutions, more development and new programmes and opportunities that will improve these indices.

“So, we feel or we believe that the best thing that will 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 research or researchers in the country, from universities to research institutes and other institutions.

“If this happens, we will be able to provide local solutions through funding of peculiar health challenges in Nigeria to be able to solve those problems.”

He said experts propose that funding for the medical research council should come from the 1% Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF). “If government operates the law by the rule,  we can have  0.5 per cent of the 1 per cent going to the council while the rest can remain in the ministry of health for research committees.

“If the funding can come every year, the country’s researchers can have funding to execute  research ideas.”

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Healthcare Services, Yusuf Tanko Sununu,  said transforming NIMR into a medical research council would make it more effective and improve research funding.

He said, “With this research council, there are many modalities of funding that will be put into the council which can be shared with other organisations.”