The Plateau government has charged a 13-man academic research committee, comprising members drawn from tertiary institutions in Plateau to find a cure for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
At the inauguration in Jos on Monday, Gov. Simon Lalong said the team which comprised professionals from the faculties of pharmaceutical, medical and natural sciences had experience in research both locally and internationally.
He said the committee was mandated to search for conventional and or alternative drugs for the treatment and cure of COVID-19 and design treatment protocols for the disease. The state is blessed with herbal and medicinal products that can be harnessed towards building its capacity to withstand the threat of diseases such as the Coronavirus, he said.
The practical alternatives proffered by the committee will reduce over-dependence on foreign solutions and help prepare the state in avoiding panic and desperation, if similar situations occur in the future, Lalong said.
He said the committee had one week to present a proposal to the government and was expected to submit a draft of research prospects within three weeks, while submitting progress report fortnightly. Other terms of reference listed by the governor for the committee included the conduct of clinical trials on the proposed drugs and design control mechanism for the spread of the virus, adding that the committee could incorporate any design that would curtail the pandemic and other subsequent diseases.
He said the committee members, who were selected on merit and in recognition of their works in the field of research, should ensure that their result would help in establishing a modern infectious disease hospital in the state. Lalong appreciated the committee members for accepting the responsibilities toward homegrown solutions to health challenges in the state.
“The pandemic is a reminder of the need to not only upgrade medical facilities and improve manpower but to develop preventive and curative capacity for infectious diseases,” he said.
While responding, Prof Noel Wannang,the Chairman of the committee, from the Pharmacology and Toxicology department, University of Jos, commended the governor for initiating the historic gesture of getting a cure for COVID-19. He said the committee would not fail the government and would explore herbal or conventional drugs or go beyond to ensure it got the cure for the disease, saying it was a responsibility to humanity.
Wannang said he was confident of the capacity of his members to discharge their duties and meet the timeline given by the governor. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 13-man committee also includes representatives of the state government, the infectious unit of the Department of Medicine, Jos University Teaching Hospital and the National Veterinary Research Institute.
Reported by: Fatimah Oyesanmi