ABUJA – The supervising Minister of Health, Dr Khaliru Alhassan, on Tuesday urged medical researchers to come up with findings that would help improve the nation’s healthcare sector.
The minister gave the advice in Abuja at the opening of a three-day forum organised by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).
Represented by the Director of International Relations in the ministry, Mrs Ngozi Azodo, the minister emphasised the importance of research to advancement in a nation’s healthcare sector.
The minister said empirical evidences were key to Nigeria’s developmental aspirations in the health and related sectors, hence the need for experts to brace up to emerging challenges in the system.
According to the minister, evidence of Nigeria’s performance in the MDGs is key to the decisions that authorities will take in the design of the nation’s agenda aimed at sustaining the MDGs.
The minister said health issues for concern in the assessment of Nigeria’s performance in the MDGs were child mortality, maternal health and HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases.
He revealed that the ministry was working in collaboration with the World Health Organisation on engaging more non-state actors to participate in programmes aimed at developing Nigeria’s health sector.
In his address, the Director-General of NIMR, Prof. Innocent Ujah, said the forum would among other issues provide the template for assessing Nigeria’s implementation of the MDGs.
“Now that the MDGs agenda is exiting, the best way to objectively reflect on the performance is to use measurable tools to assess the targets set by the world body which will assist in determining how far the set targets have been achieved.
“This conference will therefore assess the health-related MDGs with the objective of determining whether any of these goals will be achieved or on track for possible attainment of targets,“ he said.
Ujah said the outcome of the meeting would also help Nigeria design a future plan of action toward sustaining the momentum as well as strengthening weakness in the system.
He said the development of a sustainable health system that would meet the health needs of all Nigerians was dependent on a well-developed research system.
Ujah expressed optimism that Nigeria’s medical research experts would continue to lead research endeavours that would lead to the discoveries of drugs for some of the world’s deadliest diseases.
“Knowing the status of each of the health-related MDGs will assist to develop a framework for future development agenda and this is made possible only through credible evidence.
“The extent to which the MDGs targets are achieved and the lessons learnt will form the template for designing future development agenda which will help to drive the process of achieving equity for mankind,“ he added.
In his remark, the chairman of the NIMR board, Mr Handel Okoli, decried the poor funding of research by government and relevant stakeholders in the sector.
He said the advent of Ebola and recent development in the polity had emphasised the need for government and other stakeholders to prioritise research in the country.
Okoli said Nigeria had been blessed with some of the best brains in the sector but a poor culture of research funding had relegated to the background some of the country’s brightest prospects.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that experts from within and outside Nigeria are participating in the meeting.
NAN also reports that the meeting, the fifth in the series, coincides with the institute’s 2nd International Scientific Conference. (NAN)