Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola’s Speech at the Launching of Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Foundation

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, is currently not playing a leading role in the story of the COVID-19 research and development of vaccines as she should, given the immense potential it possesses. This is as a result of the lack of support for healthcare research and the years of underfunding healthcare in general and medical research in particular. Currently, all of the 12 million doses of COVID 19 vaccine reported to be available for vaccination has reached Nigerians because of the benevolence of other nations who did, many years ago what we are about to do; they funded research. Let us try to imagine the impact we could have made if the money we spent on importing vaccines today had been invested in boosting the capacity of Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) since when she was founded. We can do little about yesterday and the missed opportunities, but we can control today and use today to change the possibilities for tomorrow.

As we acknowledge the efforts to create for Nigerian Institute of Medical Research the opportunity to be a torchbearer and to take it to breathtaking heights in this generation, let us think of the employment being generated in all the facilities overseas where vaccines were imported from and being manufactured. Let us also think of how our own hard-earned resources keep other people in employment and keep businesses going. My little investigation has revealed that beyond the science related products of research or the businesses that it would help to birth or sustain, there is a very vibrant economy that has been built on the back of medical research. This economy currently employs many people across the world.

According to the most recent UNESCO report “Towards 2030”, medical research employs 250,000 people in the UK, 1.3 million people in the US, 1.5 million people in China and 75,000 people in Israel. The European Union, China, Japan and the Russian Federation still account for 72% of the world researchers. Africa as a whole accounted for 2.4% and sub-Saharan Africa represents 1.1% of world-wide medical researchers.

The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Foundation will be building capacity for translational research that will be in accordance with all standards of prevailing global ethics of biomedical research and would also be as advised by the advisory board of the research institute itself. Subject to this ethical and medical guidelines, the Foundation will be using any funds designated by donors to fund a specific research from the donor’s interest.

Lastly, I implore you to take note not only of medical research products but think of the employment and job opportunities it can create. Every research employs people, requires supplies and leads a chain reaction of economic activities translating into medical and biomedical resource. Think about living well and living long. Support medical research today!

Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Foundation.


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