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UNILAG pro-chancellor’s distinguished lecture to deepen national discourse

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UNILAG pro-chancellor’s distinguished lecture to deepen national discourse

For the first time in the history of university management in the country, the Pro- Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Chairman of the Bi-Courtney Group of Companies, Olawale Babalakin (SAN), has instituted an annual lecture series aimed at deepening discourse on critical areas of human life, and providing solutions that will be globally accepted. The innovation, coming from former Chairman of the Forum of Pro-Chancellors, has been commended by stakeholders in the nation’s education sector, including former vice-chancellors and university Governing Council chairmen, among others, who expressed the belief that the role of a pro-chancellor was not merely to sit on appointments and awards of contracts, but to redirect university administration for global relevance.

This was exactly one of the reasons advanced by Babalakin for initiating the lecture, even as he said that harnessing the country’s collective intellect towards addressing socio-economic challenges was a major motive behind the project. Meanwhile, towards fulfilling this purpose, a Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the Harvard School of Public Health, Prof. Phyllis Kanki, delivered the maiden edition of the lecture, which entitled: “Responding to Nigeria’s Disease Outbreaks and Epidemics: Ebola, Zika and HIV.”

The lecture, which was chaired by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission (ICPC), Justice Olayinka Ayoola, was also attended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, as the special guest. Kanki, in her stimulating lecture, revealed several research interventions conducted in the area of the three diseases both in Nigeria and globally, and commended the University of Lagos for partnering her team in the conduct of the research works.

The researcher, who had discovered HIV 2, explained the different strains of the Ebola, HIV/AIDS and Zika viruses and said it was important to continue researching into these diseases in order to prevent and eradicate them. She said: “In this lecture, I have tried to describe some research findings on three pathogens that are responsible for epidemics or outbreaks in Nigeria.

Continued research on the immunopathogenesis of these pathogens will promote our understanding of disease development and improve our prospects for effective diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. “Continued surveillance is key to the public health of the country whether it be for emerging or reemerging pathogens such as Ebola Virus and Zika Virus.

Continued surveillance of HIV drug resistance will help evaluate the quality of our HIV treatment programme and inform rational health policy.” In his response, the health minister agreed that Nigeria has had to contend with a number of outbreaks in the last few years, saying WHO has been invited to conduct a joint external evaluation to assess our level of preparedness for disease outbreaks

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