NIGERIA – Former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, and former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Muhammad Sanusi II, have volunteered to mobilize stakeholders to raise a seed fund of US$23.34 million (N10 billion) for the development of impactful medical research outputs in the country.

The duo made the commitment at a public presentation of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Foundation citing concern over the funding challenge facing researchers’ efforts to develop homegrown impactful research works.

These funds will enable researchers conduct studies that will primarily affect health challenges that are peculiar to Africans including non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, and neglected tropical diseases.

This announcement came shortly after the Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation malaria eradication project committed to join other partners in the nationwide promotion and roll out of RTS’S, the new malaria vaccine which the World Health Organization (WHO) recently approved for wide-use in countries.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ned Nwoko, the chairman of Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation, expressed excitement with the WHO’s approval of the widespread use in countries of RTSS, the world’s first malaria vaccine.

Earlier this year, the Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation malaria eradication project submitted a proposal to the Minister of Health, offering its support and requesting the Federal Ministry’s green light to lead the proposed roll out of RTS,S Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme (MVIP) in Nigeria.

The Foundation said with Nigeria as the country with the highest malaria burden globally, a strong local response is urgently required.

The Foundation, along with the relevant stakeholders and technical teams, shall establish the RTSS MVIP Action Committee (RMAC) to lead the implementation process in Nigeria.

HIV Burden

Aside from Malaria, the West African country is also facing a major challenge with Infants getting infected with HIV.

A report by the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme shows that at least 3,400 babies born in Nigeria in the past four years tested positive to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

Mr Ijaodola said a large number of these babies contracted the virus because their mothers failed to access health facilities for ante-natal care.

The official said to meet up with the global target, the National Strategic Plan mandates 95 per cent of all HIV positive pregnant and breastfeeding mothers receive antiretroviral therapy.

Meanwhile, 95 per cent of all HIV-exposed infants receive antiretroviral prophylaxis and 95 per cent of all HIV-exposed infants have early infant diagnosis within 6-8 weeks of birth.

However, there are some challenges hindering the drive to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Nigeria including poor access to formal public health facilities, Mr Ijaodola said.

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