The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has endowed a professorial chair in malaria research for the Centre for Malaria Research and Phytomedicine, CMRAP, at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Speaking yesterday at the inauguration of the N25 million endowment fund at the Council Chambers of the university, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, noted that malaria was one of the world’s greatest public health challenges with global estimates of 584,000 deaths in 2014 and 400,000 deaths in 2015.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that the Commission had partnered with stakeholders in its nine mandate states to seek various ways to intervene in disease control. She said: “As noted in the recent journal of malaria research and phytomedicine , Nigeria’s progress in the control and elimination of malaria requires expanded coverage and access to effective malaria control interventions such as insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying, intermittent preventive treatment, diagnostic testing and appropriate treatment.”
Mrs. Semenitari expressed regret that research on malaria had been relegated to the back burner due to funding challenges. She stated that the NDDC had decided to support research on malaria in the Niger Delta in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s change mantra.
The NDDC boss said: “The management has accepted to join the battle against malaria. We will endow a professorial chair on malaria research for the sum of N25 million per annum for an initial period of two years in the Centre for Malaria Research and Phytomedicine.”
The UNIPORT Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Prof Anthony Ibe, who represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ndowa Lale, said that the centre for malaria research and phytomedicine was meant to find solutions to the problem of malaria in the Niger Delta region. He expressed delight that NDDC had stepped in to help the institution finance research in that area.
Prof Ibe said: “We are happy you are here today. We know that you are going to give us another one million to support journal publications that will come out of the research that will be carried out at that centre. I was informed about an MOU to be signed, that NDDC has pledged not just to build the malaria house, but also to furnish it. So this NDDC malaria house will have offices for the chair occupant and so many other facilities such as laboratories, research facilities and it is something that will be useful to the university and the facilities obviously will push the research to the next level.”
The Deputy Vice Chancellor called attention to the previous request of the university authorities concerning the completion of the NDDC hostel in the Choba campus. He lamented that UNIPORT was one of the few universities where the ultra-modern NDDC hostel was yet to be completed in the south-south.
“We need the hostel like yesterday, so that we can begin to enjoy what others like the University of Science and Technology in Port Harcourt and University of Benin are enjoying,” Prof Ibe said.
In his own remarks, Prof Nimi Briggs, the Chairman of the Board of CMRAP and a former Vice Chancellor of UNIPORT, said that the universities were among other things expected to focus on research that would impact positively on the communities around them.
He said that the malaria research centre at UNIPORT was established in 2001. According to him, the centre was set up to deal with the problems of malaria which caused a lot of problems for all layers of the society, comprising men, women and children.
Prof. Briggs said that since the discovery of Quinine in the 16th century, there had not been any other big finding to stem the growing menace of malaria, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. He said that the centre for malaria research had done well with limited resources at its disposal. He assured that whatever the NDDC committed to the centre would be used judiciously.