In a bid to improve the nation’s health sector through public and private partnership, so as to ensure quality health services, capacity building and research in West Africa, the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) is collaborating with Access Bank and Dangote Foundation to raise N5 billion for the building of a state-of-the-art International Research Center of Excellence (IRCE) in Abuja.
The center which was established in 2015 is one of the major fulcrums of the vision of IHVN as a local non-governmental and not-for-profit organisation established to bring quality health services within the reach of millions of Nigerians and nationals of the West African region.
Speaking at the Access Bank head office in Lagos on Thursday, Chairman of the IHVN Ad-hoc Committee for the building of the Center, Alhaji (Dr.) Umaru Mutallab, said that with the establishment of IRCE, the Institute sees a future in which scientists are nurtured and provided world-class infrastructure to research collaboratively on diseases of relevance to the local community such as HIV, TB, malaria, cancer, non-communicable diseases, and emerging infectious diseases.
He said that the current drive to eradicate many communicable and non-communicable diseases in Nigeria is driven by international donor organizations, which is not sustainable. “We cannot continually depend, lock, stock and barrel, on the big-heartedness of the international community for all our health needs and those of our children, neither should we always travel outside the shores of this great nation when we can build sustainable capacities for collaborative researches into the diseases that affect our wellbeing and of the whole world,” he added.
Executive Director, Access Bank, Victor Etuokwu said the ultra-modern research facility by IHVN will go a long way in helping to nip diseases in the bud.
“The true essence of life is, relationship with others. It’s the real reason we are here. When we sit back and watch diseases take over while we do nothing, we stand to lose everything. I think it’s a really worthy cause. So here is a call to you to come, join hands with IHVN and help restore hope,” Etuokwu said.
Similarly, Managing Director/CEO of Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou, noted that the Foundation was partnering with IHVN as part of its strategic objectives. According to her, health is pivotal to achieving the other components which are education and socio-economic development. “It is in no doubt that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation, we are delighted to be part of this laudable project especially for providing opportunities for health promotion and disease prevention.”
The Center, located along airport road in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, will be a combination of laboratories, offices, training facilities, and lecture auditoriums on a 2.5 hectare of land that IHVN has acquired and fenced. It will contribute immensely to the sustainability of the HIV, TB, malaria, cancer, other diseases and programs in Nigeria and beyond.
Initially established in 2004 to address the HIV/AIDS crisis through development of infrastructure for treatment, care, prevention and support for people living with HIV/AIDS, the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria has had tremendous success in its operations and therefore seeks to continue to fight infectious and non-infectious diseases in Nigeria and the West African sub region through this expansion.
In a statement IHVN’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Patrick Dakum said the IRCE as a Centre of IHVN will be directed under the leadership of Professor Alash’le G. Abimiku, a distinguished scientist herself, IHVN will use the center to create an enabling environment for creative thinking and innovation in science to address Nigeria’s and global health priorities. It will provide a common world-class platform for the implementation of research and clinical trials of international standards at IHVN as part of global networks; and foster collaborations and synergism between Nigeria’s finest researchers and their counterparts at international research institutions and universities. Importantly this center will provide opportunities for young Nigerian researchers to develop and execute research projects.