Funding of health policies key to attainment of SDGs —DG, NIMR

Director General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Lagos, Professor Babatunde Salako has said that Nigeria needs to fund implementation of its many policies to ensure it meets the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) come 2025.

Professor Salako speaking at the 7th annual scientific conference stated that global progress in the last few decades in the field of information communication technology has shown that research and innovation is the only sure partway to sustainable development.

“Challenges will continue to exist and research will remain a tool in the process of overcoming challenges. Government has to be determined to fund implementation of policies that arose from results of research.

“It looks as if we are good with coming up with beautiful policies but we have not given it the financial attention that they require. And where money is being spent, there is poor monitoring and evaluation to ensure that it achieve its goal.”

Professor Salako noting the institute’s core mandate was researching into diseases of public health importance and to establish structures for the dissemination of research findings, said the institute can boast of the largest HIV/AIDS clinical unit with 24,000 patients seen cumulatively till date

Professor Oye Gureje, consultant psychiatrist, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, in a keynote address at the event, remarked that Nigeria’s health system was weakened by many challenges including chronic shortage of motivated and adequately trained staff, low budgets and high cost and irregular supply of drugs.

He, therefore, suggested system thinking approach to tackling these challenges, adding that the system must strive for equity,

The expert, remarking that research is needed to drive health system strengthening and policy change, stated that this was also very weak in low-and middle-income countries because very few national researchers work on health policy and systems issues, and there is a lack of relevant training courses.

Former Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Professor Akin Osibogun, stated that although research may appear expensive, but on the long run it is cheaper.

Osibogun, declared that especially now, Nigeria needed more research to get out of recession.

According to him, “The solution to the recession is research because it gives information and evidence for decision making. Without information, you will just be guessing. You will be moving in circles.

Osibogun cited the policy change at LUTH on delivery of babies whose mothers were HIV positive through Caesarean section based on a study carried out between 2007 and 2012 that saved roughly then N53million per annum.

The study recorded zero HIV transmission rates both through caesarean section and convectional prophylactic treatment given before delivery coupled with proper hygienic measures during delivery at the hospital, thus informing the hospital’s policy change.