The Institute of Human Virology, IHVN, and Access Bank Plc yesterday unveiled plans to establish a N5 billion world class Medical Research Centre that will research into infectious diseases and non infectious diseases on the Nigerian soil. Some of the diseases expected to be researched into includes; HIV&AIDS, Tuberculosis, TB, Lassa fever, cancer among others.
The Centre will be directed under the leadership of Professor Alash’le G.Abimiku, a distinguished scientist and will be used to create an enabling environment for creative thinking and innovation in science to address Nigeria’s and global health priorities. Making the announcement at a press conference in Lagos to intimate the media on the collaboration between Access Bank, IHVN, and Dangote Foundation to raise N5 billion for the state-of-the-art International Research Centre of Excellence (IRCE), the Chief Executive Officer of IHVN, Dr. Patrick Dakum said the building of the Centre would improve the management of infectious diseases that have continued to ravage communities across the country.
According to him, Nigeria has more children living with HIV in the world and 3.2 million people living with HIV is enough worry because about 220,000 acquire the virus annually. “Nigerians have been victims of many disease outbreaks in the last three decades now, HIV have claimed the lives of many Nigerians, Ebola and most recently Lassa fever have become diseases of great public health concern because of their devastating consequences on the lives of the population especially the productive sector.” Noting that the vision of the research Centre was not just born out of the blues, he said the centre is to become a leader in the provision of quality laboratory support, prevention, care and treatment for people living with HIV and other infectious diseases.
Dakum explained that the Centre is planned as a combination of laboratories, offices, and training and lecture auditoria on 2.5 hectares of land that IHVN has acquired and fenced along airport road in Abuja. “Beyond contributing immensely to the sustainability of the HIV programme in Nigeria, the centre will also host a state of the art laboratory to cater for research into all kinds of diseases as done in developed countries” He condemned the fact that currently international funding is the major contributor to mitigating many communicable diseases in Nigeria stressing that it is never sustainable.
Speaking Executive Director, Access Bank, Victor Etuokwu said the ultra-modern research facility by IHVN will go a long way in helping to nip diseases in the bud. “The true essence of life is relationship with others. It’s the real reason we are here. When we sit back and watch diseases take over while we do nothing, we stand to lose everything. I think it’s a really worthy cause. So here is a call to you to come, join hands with IHVN and help restore hope.” On her part, Managing Director/CEO of Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou, noted that the Foundation was partnering with IHVN as part of its strategic objectives.
According to her, health is pivotal to achieving the other components which are education and socio-economic development. “It is in no doubt that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation; we are delighted to be part of this laudable project especially for providing opportunities for health promotion and disease prevention.” It will provide a common world-class platform for the implementation of research and clinical trials of international standards at IHVN as part of global networks; and foster collaborations and synergism between Nigeria’s finest researchers and their counterparts at international research institutions and universities. Importantly this centre will provide opportunities for young Nigerian researchers to develop and execute research projects.