The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions, ASURI, has appealed to the Federal Government to commit at least 20 per cent of all monetary donations it received as Coronavirus donation toward funding health-related research institutes.
Its Secretary General, Theophilus Ndubuaku, made the plea in a statement on Monday.
According to him, anything short of this will amount to putting all the fingers in one’s mouth without saving for the rainy days, in terms of adequate prepxaration.
“This is because after COVID-19, there will be other diseases.
“Even, before this pandemic, the Nigerian health sector was in shambles and the medical research sector in comatose,” he said.
Mr Ndubuaku said that research institutes, which should be relevant in the current global emergency were sidelined.
According to him, the country has capable hands in its research institutes with mandates related to medical research.
He listed the institutions to include the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research, NIMR, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, NIPRD, and National Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research, NITR.
Mr Ndubuaku said others were Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency, NNMDA; National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA, and National Board for Technology Incubation, NBTI, which has Bioresources Development Centres, BIODEC, and Technology Incubation Centres in over 30 states of the federation.
“It is worthy of note that one of Nigeria’s mandate research institutes, NIMR, which has capacity to bail us out, had been conducting studies on Coronavirus, even before its outbreak.
“Besides, NIMR has a couple of its own corona test kits acquired through collaborative efforts with foreign donors, while government was trying to put things together,” Mr Ndubuaku said.
The union secretary decried what he called the havoc done to the nation’s economy through prolonged neglect of the research sector.
According to him, neglect of the nation’s Research and Development Institutes, RDIs, sector by successive administrations had brought upon the nation the myriad of social economic problems.
“Such problems include: high unemployment rate, mass poverty and hunger resulting in insecurity, insurgency, assassinations, ritual killings, cybercrime, kidnapping, prostitution, human trafficking and slavery, emigration, maternal and child mortality and life expectancy of 54.5 years.
“In most of the over 150 RDIs and centres, research and training activities are self-funded by researchers, because they must acquire higher degrees and produce research publications before they can be promoted at every stage of their careers.
“Nigerian career researchers are the poorest cadre of public servants as they must devote over half of their salaries to research if they must advance in their profession,” Mr Ndubuaku said.
He called on the government to look inward as the whole world struggles to find a cure for Coronavirus.
Mr Ndubuaku said: “We have the resources and the human capacity to do so.
“Acupuncture, the flagship of Chinese healthcare, as well as the Asian country’s successful herbal and mineral supplements, are home-grown initiatives.
“Despite claims that there is no proven cure for COVID-19, it is noteworthy that such herbal roots as garlic, ginger and other herbs have, over the years, been used to treat respiratory infections, such as flu, pneumonia, common cold and influenza.
“That there is no vaccine yet for COVID-19 does not stop us from testing proven local palliative therapies.”