In line with the call for Nigeria to look inward for possible cure to COVID-19, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate funding of six medical simulation, research and training facilities in six Colleges of Medicine through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
With the facilities, molecular science laboratories with capacity for testing and diagnostics of COVID-19, Lassa fever, and related viral diseases would be set up.
There has been consistent call from Nigerians to source for local cure for the pandemic which has led to the lockdown of the nation’s economy and resultant suffering of the citizens.
The health minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has repeatedly said the government would not risk the lives of the citizens by asking that uncertified drug be tested on them, even as he said local cure was not ruled out.
And just recently, President Buhari received samples of COVID-19 ‘cure’ from Madagascar, but insisted the substance would be subjected to proper scientific analysis.
Some of the ingredients used for the Madagascar solution were said to grow in some parts of Nigeria, a development that might have informed the need the directive to the TETFund to fund research in some choice institutions across the six geo-political zones.
The presidential approval was initiated through the recommendation of TETFund Board of Trustees (BOT) and further endorsement of the education minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu..
In line with the directive, the minister has directed the Executive-Secretary of Tetfund, Prof. Suleiman Bagoro, to select a university in each of the six geo-political zones, where the projects would be executed.
Also, the agency was mandated to establish 12 medical centers of excellence to be hosted by first, second and third generation universities.
Blueprint further gathered that no geo-political zone should have more than one centre.
In a statement jointly signed by TETFund’s director of public affairs, Mrs. Ngoba Priye Briggs, and the director, physical infrastructure development, Mr Buhari Mikailu, the agency said additional centers of excellence would also be cited in state universities, polytechnics, and Colleges of Education in “subsequent years”.
“The focus areas of the Centers of Excellence, in line with contemporary practice and technologies, are mainly in science-based disciplines,” the agency said in the statement issued to journalists Sunday in Abuja.
The statement further quoted the minister as stressing that “ongoing research work in response to covid-19, and similar diseases through the TETFund National Research Fund (NRF), the Research Community of the Federal Ministry of Education should undertake any other sundry contributions in support of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) in responding to the threat of Covid-19” in the country.”