Invest in critical areas of research infrastructure, Expert urges CBN

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By Lydia Ngwakwe
Lagos, Aug. 5, 2020 A Parasitologist, Prof. Wellington Oyibo, on Wednesday urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to invest in critical areas of research infrastructure in Nigeria.

Oyibo, also the Chairman, D. K. Olukoya Central Research Laboratory, University of Lagos, Akoka, made the plea on Wednesday in Lagos.

He told journalists that a country without established and operational research platforms could not respond to emergencies, as witnessed in the case of COVID-19 pandemic.

“I will suggest that the Central Bank should look at investment in the critical areas of research infrastructure.

“Research in diagnostics, drugs and vaccines require huge funding and deliberate funding investments in developing competitive infrastructure is critical.

“With this more impactful ideas can be developed, as well as critical mass, that will generate and utilise the knowledge.

“These investments should cut across the medical sciences, engineering, science and technology and Information Communication Technology space,” Oyibo said.

According to him, when platforms are available with the required human resources, equipment and setting, we will respond appropriately.

He said that Lassa fever came to Nigeria and wreaked havoc because there was no decisive respond to it, as in-country response was nothing to write home about in terms of research and development.

“Having managed a research portfolio in a major university, I can tell you that it is a delight to have in-country funding support for research.

“It is able to catalyse ideas that are unique to the country that may not be of interest to an external sponsor,” Oyibo said.

He lauded the apex bank’s idea of introducing the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS), to help strengthen the public healthcare system.

According to him, the target is clear: support for health products research and development.

Oyibo noted that what the CBN was looking at was well-filtered low-hanging fruit application, meaning, “if your ideas are not at a substantial stage of development, you are not likely to be funded”.

The university teacher urged research community not to lose hope, but remain focussed, by starting early with the little resources that would attract bigger funding.

He said that the University of Lagos, for example, funded the early stage ideas through the Central Research Committee.

Oyibo added that those that had taken advantage of the funding would have a proof of concept to attract bigger funding.

He also advised the research community to collaborate nationally and internationally, to fast-track their ideas, to use available knowledge that could be adapted.

The expert said that collaboration could really leapfrog research and development to address national priorities.

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