– As NIMR recounts gains of COVID-19
To revamp and reposition the Nigerian healthcare system for optimum service delivery, health practitioners and researchers in the country must prioritise integrity and accountability in their daily operations, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
Speaking with Pharmanews at the recently held annual retreat of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), WHO’s representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo noted that integrity and accountability are not only essential in providing the best care for patients, but will also help to rid the health system of corruption.
Mulombo, who was a special guest at the event, remarked that no healthcare system can make significant progress in an atmosphere of corruption, as corruption is inimical to accountability.
Urging health workers to recommit to the ethics of their profession and begin the new year on a clean slate of honesty and integrity, the WHO representative said: “It is very important to have accountability framework in the healthcare delivery system. Although accountability framework is a long process, every healthcare organisation must endeavour to embrace it. Accountability thrives in an organisation with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), where deliverables are strictly monitored and indicators are measured for actions.”
He added: “It is an open secret that corruption is against accountability, and with corruption in the healthcare system, no significant achievement can be made. Therefore, there is need to set the rules of integrity and transparency in the system, in order to have best health outcomes.”
While lauding the contributions of the NIMR management and staff in curbing the spread and impact of the coronavirus, Mulombo further implored them to uphold integrity and transparency in all their dealings.
Also speaking at the event, Director General of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, disclosed that contrary to the widespread lamentations about the negative impacts of COVID-19, the pandemic actually challenged and improved research capacity in Nigeria and Africa, as a whole.
Salako said: “I indeed believe that COVID-19 has challenged the whole world and reawakened a lot of things in countries, especially Africa.
“For African scientists generally, quite a number of things we wouldn’t have believed we could do or attempt were carried out, including ground-breaking research works.”
He however, lamented poor government patronage of made-in-Nigeria research solutions, a development which he said is a cause of worry to researchers.
The NIMR DG, who highlighted milestone achievements of the institution during the pandemic, said COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise, as it propelled the release of N3 billion research funds for NIMR from the Federal Government. This, he revealed, facilitated several research efforts that wouldn’t have been possible without funding.
According to him: “Especially for Nigeria’s sub-medical research, there were things we didn’t have before – that we had been clamouring for. One of such is a sequencing laboratory that is not common in Africa.
“At NIMR, we were able to acquire so many instruments in relation to sequencing, in relation to management of viral haemorrhagic fever and others, through government interventions.
“We must commend the Federal Government for their huge support to the Institute. NIMR received N3 billion intervention funds that helped us in some of our research and development activities.”
The DG also said that the Institute attracted both internal and external research grants which also aided its 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 foundations and bodies across the globe,” he said.
Salako assured that the Institute would use the gains made in the previous year to further venture into more research efforts that would be of benefit to the country.
Speaking earlier, 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, advised 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 is important to survival.
Also speaking at the event, Mr Japhet Udeanyi, head, System Study and Review Unit of the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission in Lagos, charged NIMR staff on accountability and integrity.
Udeanyi, a guest speaker at the retreat, also gave a lecture on Integrity and Accountability in the workplace.
A highlight of the event was the presentation of Award of Excellent Performance to Prof. Salako, by SERVICOM, in recognition of his accomplishments in the past five years.