Global Director Scientific Affairs, GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines, Belgium, Professor Richard Adegbola has expressed concern on Nigeria’s ability to justify inclusion of the newly introduced pneumococcal conjugate vaccine into the nation’s immunisation schedule, saying the nation lacks adequate data to do so.
Adegbola made the submission in a guest lecture he gave at the 5th Unibadan Conference of Biomedical Research entitled on “Disease surveillance for Generation of Evidence for Public Health” in Ibadan.
According to him, without baseline knowledge of diseases in Nigeria overtime, ensuring an impact assessment of the newly introduced vaccine in a bid to justify monies spent on it to policy makers could be difficult.
The expert, who decried Nigeria’s lack of accurate data, said the fact that Nigeria is not sure of its exact population also makes planning for appropriate health interventions like pneumonia very difficult.
He declared: “If you are not sure of the actual population of Nigeria, then you cannot accurately determine the extent of the problem or the amount of money to set aside for it, remember there are other things competing for that same money.”
The expert said different modes of surveillance can be done, and that each has its merits and demerits, adding that this was a reason for many health conditions that remain unsolved for decades.
According to him, countries that had better data collection had been able to negotiate better prices of drugs and other interventions to tackle problems in their countries.
He assured “disease surveillance is crucial to public health decisions. For it to be useful, it needs to be ongoing; systematic and regular interpretation of the data is important. Those that need the data should have access to them.”
Professor Abayomi Akanji from the Quinnipiac University, Connecticut, USA, who earlier spoke at the conference, said Nigeria needs to adopt technologies as biotechnology to improve healthcare and agricultural production in Nigeria.
Akanji, who spoke on “Biotechnology and health, a strategic vision for Nigeria” said biotechnology must be domesticated in Nigeria, adding that this would require a robust infrastructural development and funding to ensure it works well.
Professor Oladapo Walker, a former World Health Organisation’s representative to Uganda, also described biotechnology as a driving force behind public health interventions and advancement.
According to Walker, “without biotechnology, we would not have the methods, the know-how to be able to have new interventions in public health. So we must develop our own methods and approaches.”