Cochrane Nigeria recently hosted the International Cochrane Africa Network Conference – 4th Indaba. Cochrane Africa is a network of Cochrane entities in sub-Saharan Africa established in 2017 and consists of four hubs – Coordinating hub (South Africa), West Africa hub (Nigeria), Francophone hub (Cameroon) and the Southern and Eastern Hub (Stellenbosch University and Cochrane South Africa). The conference brought together over 90 facilitators, delegates and visitors from more than 15 African countries. The theme of the conference was "Making evidence-based healthcare functional in Africa". The event was a hybrid of virtual and physical sessions, all hosted at the prestigious National Hospital Abuja. The 4th Cochrane Africa Network Conference was organised in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of health, Nigeria with funding from the World Health Organisation and the European Union. A key highlight of the Conference was the Launch of Cochrane Nigeria as a full Cochrane Centre. Cochrane Nigeria was established in 2006 and up till recently, had been an associate centre under Cochrane South Africa. In December 2020, however, Cochrane Nigeria was granted full centre status and will now serve as a reference centre within West Africa. The launch of Cochrane Nigeria was a memorable and colourful event marked by thought provoking messages and speeches. The event brought together a number of notable personalities from various organizations including the World Health Organization Nigeria, European Union delegation to Nigeria and the Ecowas, National Health Insurance Scheme, and Federal Ministry of Health – all key stakeholders in evidence based health care in Nigeria.
Prof. Angela Oyo-Ita (Co-Director, Cochrane Nigeria) opened the launch with welcome remarks. The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ikpeme A. Ikpeme (Chief Medical Director, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital) gave a goodwill message on behalf of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital which is the host Institution of Cochrane Nigeria. Dr JAF Momoh, the Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital Abuja (Host Institution of the Conference) also gave a goodwill message on behalf of the National Hospital. Ambassador Ketil Karlsen (Head of the European Union delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS) represented by Dr. Anthony Ayeke (Health Adviser, European Union delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS) gave a speech on behalf of the European Union delegation to Nigeria and the ECOWAS. In his speech, he identified the launch of Cochrane Nigeria as a laudable advancement in the field of health research, knowledge and evidence generation, and policy making in the health sector, which is expected to contribute to progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage and the health-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3). He also noted that, in spite of the important role of research in strengthening the health sector, there is still a lag in research output and utilization in policy and practice in Nigeria. He highlighted the fact that health research is a national priority in the second National Strategic Health Development Plan and that organizations such as Cochrane, with long standing institutional capacity for scoping, rapid and systematic reviews, evidence generation for guidelines development, planning and policy making, will be relevant as partners in building national capacity for systematic reviews and generation of evidence for policy.
The Head of Mission and Country Rep, World Health Organization Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi-Moluombo who was represented by Dr. Kofi Boateng ; and the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora represented by Advisor to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Nneka Orji, also gave goodwill messages. Dr. Emmanuel Effa (Chair of the Conference Scientific Committee; and Associate Director, Cochrane Nigeria) chronicled the historical journey of Cochrane Nigeria in a presentation titled “Cochrane Nigeria: 15 years on”. The Keynote Address titled “Reducing waste, improving quality: the Role of clinical Practice Guidelines”, was presented by the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo. The launch of Cochrane Nigeria is expected to position the Nigerian centre as the hub for evidence synthesis with capacity to rapidly respond to evidence needs from policymakers and other stakeholders and drive adoption of evidence informed decision making at all levels of Nigeria’s healthcare system. The launch was wrapped up with closing remarks and a vote of thanks by the Director of Cochrane Nigeria, Prof. Martin Meremikwu. A beautiful cake wearing the national colours of Nigeria was cut to commemorate the event.