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TETFund to Provide Funding to Boost Drug Manufacturing

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Drug Manufacturing

By Adedapo Adesanya

Moving away from the norm of funding public higher education institutions, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has announced plans to provide research support to four public agencies for the purpose of enhancing drug manufacturing in the country.

TETFund listed the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) as one of the agencies that will benefit from the support.

This was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of the Fund, Mr Suleiman Bogoro, during a virtual meeting on the institutionalization of research and development in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical subsector thematic group, which coincided with the one-year anniversary of the establishment of the TETFund Research and Development Standing Committee (RDSC).

Mr Bogoro, who did not provide details of the identity and specific research activities the other agencies are expected to undertake, noted that the NIPRD will collaborate with the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan to carry out research and production of phytomedicine.

“TETFund will be providing mega research support to some agencies; in a matter of days, maximum one or two weeks thereabouts, who knows even before the end of this week, I may be sitting with about four entities that have been identified.

“And I am happy to mention here that NIPRD will be leading the mega research thrust in respect of drug development and I intend to request that they work with one or two entities,” he said.

Speaking on the institutional arrangement of the proposed National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) he said the foundation would be subsumed under the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) when it is established, stating that the agency would not be domiciled in a single ministry.

The TETFund boss expressed the belief that activities of the RDSC are gradually and firmly transforming perceptions about research in the country, adding that the committee was changing people’s opinions about the appropriate direction that the country must take, going forward.

“I cannot remember to the best of my recollection, at any time in our country, where the issue of institutionalization of R&D, the triple helix concept, the deepening of research, the emphasis on problem-solving research, rather than status acquiring research, has become the topic in almost every engagement, private and public.

“That is exactly what it was intended and I took note of the very well placed acknowledgement of all of you, the leadership and members of RDSC and the great patriotic contributions.

“We should be proud of what we are doing for our nation. May we remain focused. The patriotic resolve of all members has been the secret of the success of RDSC.

“At a time that COVID-19 has ravaged the world, we are turning to the experts, the pharmaceutical scientists have a significant and central role to play,” he said.

On his part, the Chairman of TETFund Research and Development Standing Committee (RDSC), Mr Njidda Gadzama, who delivered the anniversary speech at the meeting said since its inauguration on September 24, 2020, the committee which comprises 165 members and 13 thematic groups, has produced about 32 different reports.

Mr Gadzama said although the committee’s work was done during very difficult times, under COVID-19, it paid advocacy visits to several appropriate bodies and agencies with visible R&D outputs in Nigeria, adding that such visits have consolidated its thinking that the new paradigm of the knowledge-based economy would enhance the GDP of Nigeria.

“And judging by the commitment of members and their drive to succeed, coupled with the convener’s dogged determination in ensuring the development of R&D backed knowledge economy for Nigeria, we have gone very far in our assignment. Many milestones have been achieved and about 32 different reports are in the custody of TCT.

“Therefore, the final report of this committee will indeed, be a formidable national document for reference or for instruction and as a guide to Nigeria; as part of progress, it must be noted here that the committee for the legal establishment of national research and development foundation has completed its work. But the convener is however in the best position to report on that,” he said.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Health

FG to Support Cholera-riddled Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi

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Cholera

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has said that it is currently stepping up the technical support and guidance it is giving the states of the federation worst hit by cholera.

This was disclosed by the Director of Family Health department at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Salma Anas Kolo.

She disclosed that Kano, Jigawa and Bauchi are the states worst hit by cholera in the country, noting that more than 48 per cent of the cases reported in the country are from the three sub-nationals.

“Efforts are ongoing by the health ministry in collaboration with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to continue to provide support to the states through the national response in a well-coordinated manner.

“We continue step up in providing technical support and guidance to the states that are worst affected by cholera. “At the moment we have recorded some slow progress and success in the worst affected states.

“We have conducted some trainings for health workers for early detection and prompt treatment of victims of cholera outbreak.

“Unfortunately, the outbreak is among children between the age of 5-14 years. This is closely link to lack of access to portable clean water and also poor defecation practices and poor hygiene,” she said.

Dr Anas Kolo, however, said that the ministry was intensifying its collaboration with partners on the need to re-invigorate the Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) programme in the relevant sectors of the economy considering it requires multi-sectoral approach.

“It has to do with sanitation, toileting facilities available and personal hygiene. We are working closely with the ministries of water resources, information and culture and the ministry of environment who are very critical partners in this.

“We have developed a framework at the national level that require to be operationalized at the state level to adopt similar approach so that the populace, especially, in the worst affected areas can have access to clean water,” she said.

The Director further explained that: “Part of the response we have undertaken is the distribution of essential response commodities at the point of need including hygiene kits for affected states, using traditional medium of information transmission in most of the worst affected states.

“Hand washing is very important in the prevention of the cholera. At any time, you are handling food, hand washing is very key with running water and soap. Where soap is not available, we encourage the use of ashes and table salt.”

She further advised pregnant women in the country to attend ante natal care at the health centres nearest to them in order to access services including test HIV and Syphilis.

This, according to her, is to prevent Mother-To-Child transmission of HIV.

“This is an opportunity for us to call on all Nigerian pregnant women to attend antenatal clinic at any nearest health facility to them and get themselves tested for HIV and Syphilis.

“By doing that we can prevent the transmission of HIV from the infected mother to the unborn baby and avert the transmission of Syphilis which is also very dangerous to the unborn baby.

“It causes still-birth, miscarriages and death and brain damage leading to malformation to the unborn baby. It also affects the heart. So implications are so numerous.

“So it is cheaper and more cost effective to prevent the transmission of Syphilis from an infected mother to the child. The good news is that both are almost 100 preventable. But only if women that are pregnant avail themselves to be tested of syphilis,” the health expert stated.

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Health

COVID-19: Nigeria to Start Vaccination of Children

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vaccination of children

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

In a few months’ time, Nigeria will commence administering vaccines to children under 12 years to protect them against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This vaccination of children against the virus would be done in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The UNICEF Health Specialist and Officer in charge of Enugu Field Office, Mr Olusoji Akinleye, said during a recent media executive meeting in the state that it had taken so long for this to be implemented because of the cluttered processes involved before any drug would be administered to children.

Speaking at the event, which was in collaboration with Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA), Umuahia, on Child Rights-influenced Reporting on COVID-19, the specialist said that a lot of children had died due to the COVID-19, adding that, “In the next few months, Nigeria will start administering the vaccine on children under 12 years of age.”

He said, “We recognize the partnership in promoting and highlighting the right of every child to life. The very first right that every human being is supposed to have is the right to life; we recognise that the media have always supported the effort of government and partners, including UNICEF, in promoting the right to health.”

Noting the challenges faced by the health sector regarding public hesitancy, unwillingness, and misconceptions against the COVID-19 vaccines, Mr Akinleye encouraged parents to ensure that their children were protected by obeying the safety protocols that have been put in place.

In addition to this, he said, “UNICEF looks forward to more robust collaboration with the media and an expected upward trend in the promotion of health and hygiene practices by the media in Nigeria by daily communication to the public of protocols enforced by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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Health

Lagos to Host Conference on Biosecurity, One Health

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Biosecurity

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

The Lagos State Government has announced the plan to hold the seventh Annual African Conference on One Health and Biosecurity as part of efforts to ensure that the Africa continent braces up for the challenges posed by emerging infectious diseases and biosecurity threats.

The conference is in partnership with Global Emerging Pathogens Treatment Consortium (GET) and is scheduled to hold both virtually and physically at the Civic Centre at Lagos from Wednesday, October 27 to Friday, October 29, 2021, with the theme Universal Approach to Addressing Biosecurity Threats – Genomic Intelligence and Vaccines.

Interested participants have been advised to visit the GET website to register and attend the hybrid conference.

According to the state Commissioner for Health, Mr Akin Abayomi, the conference is seventh in the series of conferences organised by GET, in partnership with governments around West Africa and the African continent, to help develop a biosecurity road map and to increase resilience in dealing with pathogens of high consequence.

Mr Abayomi expressed the need to continually focus on the key importance of the African response in combating emerging infectious diseases.

He stated that the need for various treatment strategies and preparedness against future biosecurity threats necessitated the need for the conference.

“Lagos has teamed up once again this year with GET to organise the seventh African Conference on One Health and Biosecurity. We have a very important thematic initiative this year to address the universal approach to biosecurity threats using genomic intelligence and vaccine,” the commissioner noted.

He further explained that genomic intelligence is the ability to sequence a pathogen that is causing an outbreak, adding that COVID-19 is the focus of attention for the conference.

As stated by him, genomic intelligence should be vigorous, with significant measures taken to mitigate the potency of current and future epidemics as well as keeping up with effective vaccine production.

Mr Abayomi further explained that the conference’s thematic areas cover Vaccine Strategy, Genome Research, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Biosecurity and Bio-threat, Biobanking Infrastructure, Climate change and Cultural Anthropological Social and Economic Impact of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

He also advocated various treatment strategies and preparedness against future biosecurity threats as he stated the key importance of the African response in combating Emerging Infectious Diseases,

He stated that Lagos is prepared to welcome participants, policymakers, researchers, scientists and other interested persons to the conference, adding that the concept of One Health is necessary for ensuring biosecurity and all-around health.

In his remarks, the Chief Operating Officer of GET Consortium, Mr Ayodotun Bobadoye, noted that participants at the conference will include policymakers, scientists, researchers, healthcare professionals, experts in infectious disease management, professionals from one health field, development partners, community and opinion leaders amongst others from within and outside the continent.

Mr Bobadoye further noted that resolutions at the conference will help chart a positive course for strategic response against Biosecurity threats in Africa and by extension the world.

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