The need for the Federal government to formulate policies in favour of homegrown scientific inventions was re-echoed recently at the 2021 Annual Retreat of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), as the Director General, Professor Babatunde Salako, lamented poor government patronage to made-in- Nigeria research solutions, which is a cause of worry to many researchers.
The NIMR DG, who highlighted milestone achievements of the institution during the pandemic, described COVID-19 as a blessing in disguise, because it enhanced the release of N3 billion research fund from the Federal Government to the institution, which facilitated a lot of groundbreaking research works, wouldn’t have been possible without the funding.
He explained that for all these innovations and inventions, the institute deserves recognition from the Federal Government, because it is one thing to be commended for job well done, and a different thing entirely to be recognised.
Salako therefore appealed to the Federal Government to give due recognition to the institute for some of its groundbreaking research works.
He said: “We always want government policies support for most of the things developed in Nigeria, not just NIMR. In developed countries, their governments have policies in place that support scientific inventions. There are scientific inventions developed in the country over the years and government necessarily has to learn to develop policies in support of use of homegrown healthcare solutions.
“With the advent of COVID-19, countries such as China and Russia started using their vaccines for their people even before it was approved by the World Health Organisation.
“For homegrown products that have been tested and trusted, government should legislate in favour of their uses. This will foster the saving of our foreign earn money, but if they don’t do that, we will produce homegrown solutions that are not appreciated locally.
“Those in position of power should always remember that our people are used to these instruments from abroad, and Nigerians naturally have appetite for foreign things, thus they easily underrate made in Nigeria products. This explains the importance of policies in support of the use of homegrown scientific inventions”.
Fielding questions from pressmen, Dr Walter Mulombo, the representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, called for continuous effort and solidarity in the continent to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Mulombo, represented by Dr Ahmed Khedr, head of WHO Lagos Liaison Office, counselled scientists to inculcate integrity and dedication when carrying out their duties.
“As a continent, it is expected of us to do the needful by contributing towards the fight against COVID-19 through our works. We must work as researchers and health workers with integrity in all we do to make the world a better place,” he said.
He advised Nigerians to continually adhere to all COVID-19 guidelines of WHO, adding that prevention was important to survival
Speaking on the newly acquired equipment and upgrading of their facilities, NIMR DG hinted on newly purchased instruments in relation to sequencing, in relation to management of viral haemorrhagic fever and others through government interventions.
He commended the Federal Government for their huge support to the Institute, as NIMR received N3 billion intervention funds that helped them in some of their research and development activities.
On some of the achievements and grants received by the institute, the DG said the institution attracted both internal and external research grants which also aided the institute research works.
“We received our grants in various currencies which include N877 million, US$ 87,000, 57,000 pounds and 142,000 Euros from various foundation and bodies across the globe,” he said.
He said that the institute would use the gains made in the outgoing year to further venture into more research works that would be of benefit to the country.
For all his accomplishments in the past 5 years, Prof. Salako was presented with an Award of Excellent Performance by SERVICOM .