France awards a research grant of 30,000 euros to five Nigerian universities

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The French government has awarded research grants of €30,000 to five Nigerian universities to support innovative health research projects.

Hayward Mafuyaih, professor and researcher at the University of Josephhe said the grant would allow them to “reach more sentinel sites” in the Plateau State.

“Now we will be able to take statewide sentinel data that is more robust and will give us precise accuracy in terms of what we are measuring,” said Mr. Mafuyaih, a professor of public health, entomology and parasitology at the university and one of the the recipients of the grant.

Mr. Mafuyaih and his team worked on the ‘Web-based Malaria Information System (Web-MIS)’ project.

The other researchers, who also conducted various health-focused research, are from Obafemi Awolowo University; University of Lagos; University of Ibadan; and Bayero Kano University.

Omolola Irinoye, a community public health practitioner at Obafemi Awolowo University, said the fund is a big step forward for her group. She said that she will help them approach their intervention holistically instead of piecemeal as they had been doing.

Their project was titled ‘E-Health Systems to Strengthen Health Literacy, Advocacy, Screening and Access to Health Care for Population Groups in Osun State’.

“For many of the diseases that kill our people, if you have information, you can do a lot of things to prevent, detect early and manage effectively if you have access to people that you can talk to very freely,” he said.

Solidarity Fund

The universities received the awards within the framework of the Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects, an initiative of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs that was launched in 2021, with the aim of supporting the development of research capacities in higher education.

Every two years, the French government focuses on a theme and rewards innovative projects.

In 2021, it chose a theme “Health Research, Innovation, Information and Artificial Intelligence” which aims to apply digital innovations to current challenges in Nigeria’s health system.

According to Emmanuelle Blatmann, French Ambassador to Nigeria, the Solidarity Fund aims to help cooperation and foster relations and partnerships with foreign universities.

He added that the main purpose of providing the funds is to help Nigerian universities improve their programs, knowing that funding is difficult even in France.

“We consider it important that they get help from us,” he said.

“We also believe that academic cooperation is crucial for strengthening the relationship between Nigeria and France.”

Ms. Blatmann added that it is also a great way to improve mutual understanding between the two countries.

Award Recipients

“Because sometimes there are a lot of false images about Africa and this is also what we are investigating. However, the idea of ​​health here is to help improve and strengthen the health systems in Nigeria,” she said.

Other recipients

Other award winners include Patrick Okonji, Principal Investigator of the UNILAG project, ‘A Telemedicine Approach to Equitable Access to Quality Eye Care in Remote Rural Areas of Lagos, Nigeria’.

Mr. Okonji dedicated the award to people with visual impairments whom his work seeks to support.

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Oluyemisi Folasire, from the University of Ibadan, is another award winner. Her group’s project focused on ‘Gestational Blood Sugar Tracker (GBST): An Innovative Method for the Detection, Prevention and Treatment of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)’.

Ms. Folasire said that the project aims to improve the lives of women and children by encouraging healthy food consumption and healthy weight loss, which reduces the chances of gestational diabetes.

Another recipient, Amir Bature, Principal Investigator at the University of Bayero Kano, where they worked on ‘Malaria Parasite Detection in Blood Smear Microscopy Using Artificial Intelligence’.

Sonny Echono, Executive Secretary of TETFUND, thanked the French Embassy for a “demonstration of very cordial bilateral relations between our countries and their interest in promoting research”.

He noted that the French government awards complement and also speak to TETFUND’s current approach to promoting research and development in Nigeria.

“Health research tends to have a direct impact on the livelihood, standard of living and health conditions of our people,” he said.

“And we hope that the award winners will seize this opportunity not only to expand the frontiers of knowledge, but also to generate impactful findings that will renew our health care system,” said Mr. Echono.

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