The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has inaugurated the governing board of the NDDC Professorial Chair on Malaria Elimination and Phytomedicine Research, at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT).
Speaking at the inauguration of the N50 million endowment fund at the Council Chambers of the university, the NDDC Managing Director, Mr Nsima Ekere, stated that the main objective of the intervention was to reduce the prevalence of malaria through strategic control, curtailing breeding, transmission as well as reducing the cost of treatment.
The NDDC Managing Director, who was represented by the Executive Director Projects, Engr. (Dr) Samuel Adjogbe, said that the endowment of a chair on Malaria Elimination and Phytomedicine Research, was apt considering the prevalence of the disease in tropical Africa and particularly the Niger Delta region.
He explained that the N50 million endowment would be redeemed in two installments of N25 million per annum for an initial period of two years, noting that the Commission recently released the first tranche of N25 million for the Malaria Chair Research Programme.
The NDDC CEO said that the spread of breeding grounds for mosquitoes, the high cost of treatment of malaria and the increasing incidence of resistance and reactions to existing drugs provided the basis for the research program.
He observed: “As malaria incidence increases, so do morbidity and mortality rates, particularly in the high risk population; namely, children, pregnant women and non-immune individuals. Along with malaria morbidity comes economic losses, social and economic consequences.”
Ekere recalled that the NDDC responded to a request to sponsor malaria research during the first International Malaria Conference held at the University of Port Harcourt in conjunction with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom on May 16, 2016.
The UNIPORT Vice Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, said that the UNIPORT Centre for Malaria Research and Phytomedicine was meant to find solutions to the problem of malaria in the Niger Delta region.
He assured that the Malaria Chair would be well utilised for the benefit of the society. He noted that members of the board were carefully selected from among the finest in the university. “We can assure you that your money is put where it should be.”
The Chair Occupant, NDDC Malaria Elimination and Phytomedicine, Prof Chijioke Nwauche, stated that the focus of the project was to explore alternative approaches to malaria control and elimination in Nigeria.
He said that the research would also lead to other novel strategies towards integrated vector management, adding that the NDDC had rightly bought into the vision of the Federal Government to fight the scourge of malaria.
Prof Nwauche reminded the NDDC of its promise to build a malaria house for the research project, noting that such a facility would have laboratories that would also be beneficial to the university.