Nigerian mothers have asked to give only breastmilk to children below six months because it is sterile and can protect them from diarrhoea, a major killer of children in Nigeria.
Head, Department of Pharmaceutical Microbiology, University of Ibadan, Professor Iruka Okeke gave the charge at the 2019 Olumbe Bassir Lecture she delivered at the University of Ibadan, with the title “Holding on and Letting go: Dissecting Attachment by an Exceptional Bacteria; Coloniser”.
Okeke stated that the cause of diarrhoea is always eating and in children, diarrhoea can lead to malnutrition and developmental difficulties in children.
The expert, who studies organisms that cause persistent diarrhoea, assured that work was ongoing to further understand how germs cause persistent diarrhoea and how best to intervene to give children healthier lives.
She added, “it is a protein that helps the bacteria to bind to the host and so we are studying this adhesion to see whether we can interfere with it and thereby protect children from diarrhoea or cure diarrhoea.
“Much fewer children die now from diarrhoea than when I started my postgraduate training. Of course, we want to bring it to zero that is why we are working on it. The fact that there is an improvement does not mean that we should stop the studies, we need to continue.”
Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Abel Adeyinka, represented by the Deputy Vice-chancellor, Academic, Professor Adebola Ekanola, appreciated the foundation for its contributions in advancing medical knowledge through biomedical research through its different activities, including lectures.
According to Prof Olayinka, the strong support from the foundation for several proposals which has helped to build research capacity in the field of Human and Veterinary medicine and Pharmacy over the years.
He said the foundation’s distinguished lecture has afforded its fellows opportunity to use their personal achievements in research to illustrate the importance of health research.
Chairman, Thomas-Bassir Biomedical Foundation, Professor Oladele Kale, urged Nigeria not to relent in studying its problems and its cultures that is being eroded by imperialism and globalisation.