In addition, we stressed the need to develop and implement the right policies for biotechnology to thrive in Nigeria. We also called on government to institute policies that would potentiate the capacity of the private medical sector to optimize its service outputs. This requires a review of the curriculum of Lagos State University, College of Medicine to create the appropriate departments to teach bioinformatics, genetics, patents and intellectual property law, and other related subjects in preparation of the personnel demands that will definitely arise from such major shifts in technology.
Effective health planning needs to anticipate future healthcare technology and take its impact into account. For health policy makers committed to improving national health systems, involvement of these new technological areas in the policy formulation process is essential to ensure that health policy, when implemented, is future-proof.
Appropriate studies of the medical value chain need to be undertaken to accurately determine the most effective mode of engagement with these new technologies. Policy makers need to ask, “Where and how in the healthcare delivery chain can developing country health systems intervene with biotech tools to deliver the most bang for their limited buck?”
Fortunately some of the infrastructure required for the functioning of such a biotechnology-driven healthcare platform is currently being implemented. The first of two privately operated subsea fiber-optic cables has arrived in Lagos, delivering sufficient bandwidth to make cloud computing, collaborations in computational biology, and collaboration between international research institutions a realistic possibility.
Dr. Idris promised that his ministry would “critically look into the recommendations from the symposium,” adding that there was the need to embrace technology in healthcare.
“Our current methods of organizing and delivering healthcare are unable to meet the expectations of patients and their families because the science and technologies involved in healthcare—the knowledge, skills, care interventions, devices, and drugs—have advanced more rapidly than our ability to deliver them safely, effectively, and efficiently,” he explained.
According to the former Minister for Science and Technology, Professor Turner Isoun, it is estimated that 15 years from now, 50% of the global economy will be bio-economies and knowledge economies.
“Hence, by 2020, any nation that does not align itself economically with biotechnology might miss out on the reward of yet another revolution. No doubt, Nigeria is endowed, but what matters most is how it uses the new information technology of bioinformatics to drive growth and development in the country.”
The Commissioner for Science and Technology, Kadiri Hamzat, Ph.D., said the theme of the symposium was appropriate since biotechnology allows quicker diagnosis for early treatment, thus saving more lives as well as allowing better treatments and higher success rates at curing or slowing progression of the disease process.
“Medicine today is characterized by the need to know more, manage more, watch more, do more, all with more people involved in doing it than at any other time in our history.”