By SOLA OGUNDIPE
A Pioneering collaborative research work on biological psychiatry is currently underway between the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, United States of America.
The research, first of its kind in West and Central Africa, is designed to improve on the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders in the country. Statistics show that Nigeria has less than one psychiatrist per million of the population and only 1 in 10 persons who require psychiatric care and treatment, eventually obtain it.
Disclosing the essence of the research work during the first seminar on biological psychiatry held at the hospital, the Medical Director, Dr. Rahman Lawal stated: “We are trying to couple practice with research to improve quality of service to clients. The end point is that we are entering into a new age of psychiatry in Nigeria and we are proud of this achievement.
“With the cause of psychiatric disorders being identified, psychiatry is going the way of becoming an illness that can be diagnosed just like malaria, hypertension or diabetes. This is known as biological psychiatry where biological markers are identified to explain the possible cause or causes of psychiatric ailments.”
Lawal observed that with the assistance of Dr. Ikwunga Wonodi, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Schizophrenia Related Disorders Programme, MPRC Neuro-genetics Laboratory, University of Maryland, Baltimore in the USA , the Federal Neuropsychiatric hospital, Yaba, had already obtained a small grant to be build a laboratory and begin research work into biological psychiatry.
“This is the best thing that can happen to any psychiatric hospital in this area,” he remarked.
Wonodi, who is also Director of the First Episode Psychosis Clinic, Maryland Psychiatric Research Centre, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, said he was in Nigeria to help set up the biological research psychiatric programme
He presented a paper entitled “Building Capacity for Neurobiological Research: Endophenotype-based genetic Dissection of Schizophrenia”.