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Monday, June 2, 2014

AstraZeneca unveils health research grant in Nigeria

The AstraZeneca Nigeria Research Grant has been unveiled in Nigeria for health affiliated research, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The grant, NaijaAgroNet gathered  is an initiative to facilitate research in both communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in this West African country and follows closely on the recent successful launch of a comparable venture in Kenya earlier this year.

NaijaAgroNet also gathered that over the next three years, AstraZeneca plans to invest a total of US$300 000 (US$100 000/year) in a variety of research projects in Nigeria, with the aim of building medical capacity in the country, providing support to both experienced medical academics as well as medical academics embarking on a career in research.

Karl Friberg, AstraZeneca’s Country President for South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, informed NaijaAgroNet the intention was to fund 5-7 projects per year. 

“Prevalence/epidemiological, pharmaco-economic and health outcomes data are vital if we’re to understand the disease burden in Africa. The Grant will make possible the studies needed to provide such data,” Friberg said.

The focus in Africa on infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria is now broadening to include NCDs like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (e.g. hypertension) and asthma. “We know these conditions are increasing rapidly in Africa, but we’re unable to quantify the extent of the problem,” he continues.

 “We need local data to know what we’re dealing with – so that we can partner with governments to address matters earlier in the disease process and avoid the higher downstream costs that come with treating advanced disease states.”

The Nigerian government is especially concerned about the increasing NCD burden. “The Minister of Health is interested in establishing a national stroke and cardiovascular disease prevention programme, but is dependent on hospitals coming up with good-quality representative data on the prevalence of major cardiovascular risk factors,” says Friberg. Over and above the Grant, AstraZeneca is therefore also funding a project run out of the capital, Abuja, to assess the prevalence of these risk factors.

The study involves 5000 subjects and is being undertaken in partnership with the National Hospital Abuja. It represents an investment of an additional US$100 000 and is currently under way. “We’re proud to feel that even before the official launch of the ‘Grant’, we’re already helping to meet Nigeria’s health needs,” observes Friberg. “By supporting the programme, AstraZeneca is positioning itself as the partner of choice in raising awareness, early detection and appropriate management of major cardiovascular risk factors. This will be to the benefit of all stakeholders – the hospital, the patients/community and AstraZeneca.”

The key aim of the ‘AstraZeneca Nigeria Research Grant’ is to build capacity and capability to conduct research in Nigeria. “We hope to build the next generation of academics in Nigeria by assisting them to undertake clinical trials, have their research published and present their findings internationally. For science to deliver value, data need to be shared and challenged as the findings become known, understood and used constructively.”

AstraZeneca believes that pharmaceutical companies need to move beyond their traditional roles and form partnerships to create a meaningful difference in the health of a nation. Friberg feels that the ‘AstraZeneca Nigeria Research Grant’ is a reflection of the company’s commitment to the country and to Africa as a whole. 

“When all is said and done, it’s about making a difference to the patients themselves. I have great hopes and expectations that this initiative will produce many high-quality research projects that will provide crucial insights into Nigeria’s disease profile, especially with regard to NCDs. And once we have this information, AstraZeneca will continue to work together with the Nigerian government to address these matters.”

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Pix: R-L: Tarek Rabah, Area Vice President , Middle East& Africa,AstraZeneca Nigeria, Professor Folashade Ogunsola, Provost College of Medicine, University College Lagos, Karl Friberg, Country President, South Africa & Sub-Sahara Africa, AstraZeneca Nigeria and Jude Abonu, Country Manager, AstraZeneca Nigeria at the grand launch of AstraZeneca Scientific Research Trust Grant in Nigeria held in Lagos yesterday- 19th February, 2014

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