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UNN inaugurates first vaccine research centre

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu State, has inaugurated the first Vaccine Research Centre, as part of efforts to deepen research, advance healthcare and spearhead the development of vaccines for diseases that disproportionately impact Nigeria and Africa.

The centre, equipped with funding from the United States National Health Institute and the Belinda and Gates Foundation, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, was inaugurated on Tuesday.

UNN Vice Chancellor, Professor Charles Igwe, said the inauguration of the centre was quite insightful, especially as it was coming after overcoming challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and prolonged strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

He appreciated the efforts of the Director of the VRC, Professor Silva Anika and his team in ensuring that the project was realised and promised to ensure that the centre contributed significantly to addressing tropical diseases affecting both humans and animals in Nigeria.

On his part, Professor Anika, listed the centre’s multifaceted role in training, research, and vaccine production for various endemic tropical diseases and underscored the importance of establishing collaborative partnerships with national and international entities to ensure the centre’s viability and global impact.

He also shed light on an ongoing research initiative focused on diseases like African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), noting that it causes considerable suffering and economic losses.

Prof. Anika expressed confidence in translating the research findings into practical programmes that will save lives and enhance livestock health and productivity.

He, however, highlighted the challenges posed by the need for a consistent power supply to operate the centre’s equipment, valued at approximately $1million.

During the tour of the facility, Dr Chinwe Chukwudi, a veterinarian and researcher, showcased the centre’s state-of-the-art equipment, which can be used for diagnosing various diseases, including cancer.

The don, who secured the grant for the centre, highlighted ongoing pilot studies on Human African Trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness.

He encouraged medical students to utilize the centre for their studies and underscored the importance of sustainability to ensure the centre’s long-term impact.

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