For viral infections to be reduced to the barest minimum in the country, a lot of preparations ranging from awareness creation on viral loads, equipping of diagnostic laboratories, empowerment of laboratory scientists, and many more, need to be implemented, Dr Rosemary Audu, deputy director (research) and head, Department of Microbiology of the Nigerian Institute Of Medical Research (NIMR), has said.
Dr Audu, made the submission while delivering her distinguished lecture titled “Viruses: Friends or Foes? The Journey to Subdue”, during the 5th International Scientific Conference organised by NIMR.
The microbiologist, who traced the root cause of many viral infections in Nigeria, attributed it to carelessness and indifference towards healthcare issues by government and citizens. “Many of the viral infections prevalent in the country are caused by negligence and nonchalant attitude towards health issues by Nigerians”.
Highlighting several definitions of virus with examples of good and bad viruses produced by the human body or contacted by the human system, she mentioned a few of the bad viruses to include: Lassa fever virus, Nipah virus, Monkey Pox virus, HIV/AIDS, Small Pox virus, and others.
Dr Audu, however explained that it is not all viruses that are dangerous to the human body, as virus could serve as gene therapy, cancer prevention and control, biological pest control, and bacteriophage therapy.
Quoting from a scriptural passage in Mark 3:27, which states that “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house”, she likened viruses to the strong man explained in the passage, and except solid arrangement are made, it will be impossible to dislodge them.
The experienced researcher however decried the status of diagnostic laboratories in Nigeria and Africa, asserting that as at 2014, only 150 diagnostic labs were accredited out of 5,349 diagnostic labs present in the country then.
She further revealed international efforts made to establish diagnostic labs in some part of the world, saying :” As at May 2018, over 1,100 diagnostic labs were established in over 52 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Micronesia pacific.
The high point of the lecture was the award presentation to Dr Rosemary Audu by the Director- General of NIMR Prof. Babatunde Lawal Salako.