By Blessing David
Nigeria’s has began moves to kick start it’s initial COVID -19 vaccines in 18 months following support of N450 million donation by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
In the same wise, Project Manager, Nigeria COVID-19 Research Coalition (NCRC), Prof. Poopola Mustapha, has hinted that at least $500 million is needed yearly for research and development in the health sector.
Mustapha disclosed this today in Abuja at a colloquium organised by the coalition.
According to him, the proposition by the African Union (AU) has proposed that countries should set aside one per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a contribution for research and development (R&D).
He said, “Our National GDP is $500 billion and one per cent of this is $5 billion.”
Mustapha explained that before now, TETFund used to concentrate on funding for research and development only in the tertiary education sector, but for the first time, it brought together five institutions that are having real-time business in terms of the development of vaccines in the country, using the COVID-19 model.
He noted that institutions involved include the National Veterinary Research Institute (NDRI), Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto; the University of Jos and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), as “we are looking at the reagents component of what is needed so that it can be produced locally.”
Accordingly, the highest grant portfolio for research is around $20 million while the health sector requires at least $500 million yearly to have concrete research for qualitative development.
Coordinator of NCRC, Dr. Chinwe Ochu, advocated for domestic funding for the pandemic and other health research in the country, and disclosed that her organisation was set up to conduct COVID19 research, but lamented the absence of funding.