Scientists and academia have faulted the federal government over the gradual decline of research in Nigeria.
They stressed that, while developed countries have strengthened their research – addressing economic challenges, bridging knowledge and skill gaps and building solutions to the problems of others, Nigeria continues to experience an all-time decline in the quantity and quality of its research output, which according to them was evident by year 1996.
These were the outcry at the seventh scientific conference of the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, titled: “Beyond Research: Advocacy, Translation and Implementation.”
The guest speaker, Director General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Prof. Babatunde Salako, who spoke on the theme of the conference, berated the government ineptitude towards promoting research and scientific study in the country.
He said certain factors that have contributed to the decline of research from late 1988 till date include, lack of skills in modern methods, lack of equipment for carrying out state-of-the earth research, poor infrastructure, poor funding, poor network of collaboration and partners and low capacity for grantsmanship for quality and quantity research work.
Salako stressed that in the global research-funding pattern, less than 10 per cent of worldwide resources are spent every year on health research, used for health problems in developing countries.
He added that research in Nigeria is donor driven, noting that health research fund is at 0.08 per cent as against the two per cent recommended by the World Health Organisation.
“No guidelines for getting research into policy or practice; private sector participation almost absent, perversive corruption, policy somersault and instability, lack of publicity of research policy/agenda as well as insecurity and political uncertainty”, according to the NIMR DG are challenges beleaguering the development of research in Nigeria.
He lamented that among the award received by research organisations in Africa, Nigeria is not among the country, which he said portrays the poor state of research.
On research capacity, Salako stressed that there is shortage of faculty and research leaders, as well as inadequate facilities and few career opportunities for building researchers.
Proffering solutions, he said there should be increased funding on the part of government, trainings in new technologies, acquiring new skills, and extensive collaboration, adding that there is need for increased advocacy for policy and decision makers to address the challenges of building health research innovations to practice more quickly, helping to bridge the service to science gap.
He, however, noted that research is the greatest engine for national development, through which a developing nation and poor nation can attain economic prosperity, social engineering, patent and innovations, drug discovery, job creation, human longevity and health system impact.
In her welcome address, the Dean of the faculty, Prof. Olubunmi Magbagbeola stressed that the topic is timely as the essence of research is to solve societal challenges and improve the lot of the citizenry, which should be the ultimate goal for every stakeholder in the country.
She stressed that the findings and outputs of research, as much as, applicable, should drive the emergence of sustainable and implementable policies and effective utilisation to change the society and life of the people for the better.
The above reason, she said, is important for research to be well funded and multidisciplinary in nature, as well as policies and assessment criteria that will promote and favour collaboration and multidisciplinary research engagements, which need to be put in place.
Highlights of the conference include two research grant awards of N250, 000 each and awards to the best lecturers in the faculty as well as the overall best.
The Chairman, Organising Committee, Prof. Abraham Osinubi said the awards were instituted by the faculty to acknowledge excellence in teaching and research amongst academic members of the faculty, which is in turn expected to motivate and encourage academic staff, spurring them to greater heights.