UofA wins another NIH grants

The University of Abuja has yet again won a grant to evaluate the implementation and scale-up of a programme on reduction of sodium (salt) in Nigeria.

The grant which will last for initial period of two years and may be extended for another four years based on performance, was awarded by the National Institutes of Health supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

In a letter dated 9th October 2020 and signed by the Grants Management Officer of National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Anthony Agresti, the organization advised the researchers to establish and promote standards which provide reasonable expectation that the design, conduct and reporting of research funded under NIH awards will be free from bias.

This is the second time in two months that the Institute would be awarding a grant to the University of Abuja, the first, being in September 2020 on a model to manage hypertension among people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Nigeria.

Institutions which will be collaborating with Medical Scientists in University of Abuja and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital are Northwestern University, Chicago, USA (Dr Mark Huffman, mPI); The George Institute, University of New South Wales (Prof Bruce Neal, Co-PI); University of Minnesota, USA; Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria; and World Health Organization, Nigerian Office. Others are National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC); Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and Resolve to Save Lives.

Excess salt consumption has some serious health effect on the consumers. Even though research has shown that 10% of all deaths from cardiovascular diseases are estimated to be due to excess dietary sodium, there were no studies estimating the dietary sources of sodium in Nigeria, according to the researchers. Yet, such research is a critical factor for comprehensive sodium reduction program planning, implementation, and evaluation in the country with rapidly changing disease epidemiology, the researchers had noted.

Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI)of the research, Dr Dike Ojji, who is also the Lead Investigator, Cardiovascular Research Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Abuja and Consultant Physician/Cardiologist University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, said “the study would examine a contemporary, detailed sources of dietary sodium study to help identify the degree to which discretionary, packaged, unpackaged, restaurant and hawker foods contribute to dietary sodium with the ultimate goal of establishing salt policies and regulations in Nigeria.”

Ojji said the study would be divided into three parts namely stakeholder interviews; populations’ surveys and retail surveys and would be carried out in study sites of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Ogun state and Kano state.
This grant is a great privilege for us to contribute our quota once again to improving cardiovascular research in the country with the ultimate aim of reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease in Nigeria, the Principal Investigator declared.