My Grant Writing “Why” | Titi Gbaja-Biamila
I was first Introduced to research during the final year of my bachelors degree, it was not a pleasant experience. My colleagues and I were required to visit Igboora a village in the outskirts of Ibadan in Oyo state as part of our public health course. That year, Guinea worm infestation ravaged the village. Prof Briggs, a US based-professor, had come to help clear and investigate this infestation. I was surprised that an American prof had come to Nigeria to stay in a village, just to help the people of Igboora. The village was very uncomfortable, the water was so hard, my colleagues and I would use a large bottle of detergent but the water would not foam. But the people in Igboora needed help and we were there to help them through research. After my graduation from the University of Ibadan, I proceeded to serve my country in a compulsory one year national youth service. My primary place of assignment was the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).
During this period of service, I was repeatedly faced with problems experienced in the community. My friends and I discovered that in the community where we worked, there was a high rate of death among children under 5 years. They died of preventable Illnesses. So five of us wrote a short proposal to industries and clinics in the state to help fund the local clinic to diagnose and treat under-5 children. Red cross gave us a small space within their premises to run the clinic, other companies and private individuals provided drugs and consumables, we ran this clinic free of charge two days in a week. We soon discovered that it was best to conduct a research on the common illness we encountered while running the clinic, so we wrote a proposal and requested for permission from the state government and obtained permission to conduct our research. In addition to this study we also conducted research investigating the prevalence for helminths among Secondary schools students in the community. During this period we also observed that the community needed awareness on common diseases and illnesses. This lead us to create a magazine which we gave free of charge to members of the community. We again needed money to fund our project so we had to once again written grant proposals. During this year we wrote several proposals to companies to help fund our numerous activities.
After the National service year I continued to work at NIMR and as the years went by I soon discovered that there is always a need for research in the community but the problem is not the research but how to fund the research. Funding research is a big problem in Nigeria but through my mentors Prof Ezechi and Dr Juliet I have seen big grants been awarded to research. The I-TEST (Innovative Tools to Expand Youth-Friendly HIV Self-Testing) project which is Dr Juliet dream come to life, and which she leads with two other renown professors is one of such amazing projects where she has been able to reach over 5,000 youth in Nigeria and this has had great impact on policies towards HIVST. It really amazing!!
Through the years I have seen that “money answereth all things” especially in research. So identifying the gaps in research and identify where research is most needed in the community in my opinion is fruitless if it can’t be funded.
So I will say Money answereth all research.