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Research funding key to Nigeria’s devt, attitudinal change required from govt – Gureje

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A Professor of Psychiatry and Director, World Health Organisation (WHO) collaborating Centre for Research in Mental Health, Neurosciences and Substance Abuse, Ayo Gureje has advocated for a structured institutional support for research in the country.

According to him, there should be a budget for competitive research applications in which many will put out their application forward and which should be judged on the basis of strong and impactful for the society.

“The developed countries have structures for supporting and sponsoring research and this is what we have been advocating for but we don’t have it here, even South Africa, Brazil and India are doing better in terms of development because they are supporting research which are addressing their national issues.

Gureje, who is of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Ibadan in his keynote address at the first scientific conference organised by the Faculty of Applied Science, Kola Daisi University in Ibadan, with the theme, ‘Emerging Research in Science and Technology for Health and Sustainable Development’, said: “Research is key to Nigeria’s development; it will address poverty and unemployment, societal needs and the only way we can develop is to fund it. So, Federal Government should pay more attention to research but this cannot be done without money.

“Is sad that Nigeria is currently one of the countries with the lowest research funding in the world, contributing minimally compared to South Africa, Brazil and India. So also a lot of attitudinal change is required apart from funding.”

Lamenting that government lacked the political will to fund research, he said policy makers should show more interest in research products.

“When you do research and something is coming out of it, you disseminate it; it should be taken up because the idea of research is to improve life and you cannot improve life in the laboratory; you have to translate it to policy.”

He further said that the conference was about information sharing in which researches that have been conducted in various parts of Nigeria would be showcased.

“The conference is about sharing Information about research, capacity building in human endeavours, and ability to advance knowledge to address national issues; basically efforts to address national issues which include health, education and agriculture, how to teach better, treatment for various diseases. You will remember about two years ago there have been move to develop vaccines; it wouldn’t have been possible without research,” he said.

Read also: Psychotherapist lists ways to reduce mental stress at workplace

Adeniyi Olatubosun, a professor and Vice Chancellor, Kola Daisi University, urged those in biological and physical sciences as well as technology/engineering to work very closely with social and behavioral sciences to speed the application of innovations and insights to the need of society.

According to him, “Science and Technology considerations are involved in virtually all facets of our 21st century national and foreign policies, in terms of controlling proliferation of arms, protection against threats to our critical infrastructure, addressing HIV/AIDS, Covid-19 pandemic and its variants, protecting bio-diversity or mitigating transboundary air pollution, science is indispensable to understanding the problems and technology is central to their remediation.”

While saying that the conference will be an annual event, the VC pointed out that the essence is to foster capacity building, encourage partnership and networking.

The conference, which attracted scientists and researchers, is to showcase what many of them have been doing in their disciplines over the years and relate them to the contemporary societal needs.

In his opening remarks, Olajumoke Morenikeji, a professor and Dean Faculty of Applied Sciences, Kola Daisi University, Ibadan said that many interesting, well written, solution-driven, versed abstracts were received for the conference from various universities and faculties.

“These abstracts are addressing trending scientific issues in our society; for instance, one of the interesting abstracts showed the many pathogens found in sachet water (pure water) which can cause a wide range of infections and even multiple organ collapse. This shows that some kinds of sachet water are not safe for human consumption and dangerous to human health.

Morenikeji however, disclosed that the conference was meant to address societal issues and proffer scientific solutions.