Towards bridging the gaps in clinical research and development as well as clinical trials in Nigeria, Xcene Research, a leading contract research organisation is billed to hold Impact Africa Summit (IAS) – the largest Pharmaceutical Research & Development and Clinical Trials Summit in Africa, from 1 to 3 December, 2021, at the Lagos Oriental, Nigeria.
The conference, with the theme: “Building sustainable capacity for clinical research through partnerships in Africa” will be organised in collaboration with key stakeholders from NAPA, NAFDAC, NHREC, NIPRD, NIMR and NMA.
Addressing journalists at a press conference to announce the summit, Executive Director, Xcene Research, Adebukunola Telufusi, expressed the vision of the organisation in changing the narrative in clinical trials in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa, which was what birth the team in 2015, as they have tenaciously pursued the goal in establishing solid relationships with major players in the industry to buy into their objectives, which is coming into fruition with the summit.
She said: “Africa is emerging as an important destination for pharmaceutical R&D, clinical trials, and manufacturing. The Impact Africa Summit will elaborate on how building sustainable capacity for clinical research through partnership will help achieve our goal for healthier Africa. The 3- day event will have educative workshops, symposiums and lectures that will give valuable insights and rewarding experiences to patients and healthcare professionals. It will also be an avenue to reward and celebrate individuals who have made significant IMPACT in improving healthcare in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa”.
Also speaking at the media briefing, Director General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Prof. Babatunde Salako, appreciated the timeliness of the IAS, which is coming up at the nick of time when the issues of clinical research and trials are on the front burner in the healthcare industry, with vaccine development as a major discussion across the globe.
The NIMR DG, who was represented by Dr Nneka Onyejepu, NIMR research Fellow, lamented dearth of clinical trials in the country, as Nigeria is missing on the landscape of clinical trials in Sub-Saharan Africa, which ought not be because the nation has the resources to conduct clinical research and development as well as trials on indigent population. He thus noted that the IAS will be a veritable platform to resolve bottlenecks around clinical trials in the country.
According to him: “The key thing is talking with key stakeholders on factors preventing trials in the country and finding solutions to the problems. Thus, this conference is timely; as it will be a place where all key stakeholders will sit down with the pharmaceutical companies to ask why they are not investing in Nigeria, why are they not bringing their products to test here, and then we can sit down to know what the issues are and how to resolve them. And then once the issues are identified, we will be closer to the goal than the point where will started from. NIMR will be fully part of it with all our resources”.
As a passionate researcher, Onyejepu revealed her vision to change the negative narrative on clinical trials in Nigeria to a positive one, saying “it’s my passion to see Nigeria on that landscape that when you talk about clinical research, when you talk about research and development in Africa, Nigeria will readily come to mind. We have the resources, we need to work with other stakeholders, private –public, to drive outcome of clinical research into polices that will be beneficial to all. If you’re talking about changing the healthcare landscape, it has to do with clinical research”.
Speaking on Xcene’s journey so far in the country in birthing an innovative healthcare system, the Xcene Project Manager, Dr Faramola Ogunkoya, said although they haven’t got to their destination, but the team has been able to secure the willingness of two international pharmaceutical companies to come and invest into clinical research, collaborate with others and build capacity. While admitting that it is a long term project, she said the summit will afford key stakeholders the opportunity to draw the blue print for the actualisation of the vision.