Regional Director for Africa urges increased investment in research in Africa

Maputo, 18 September 2012 — The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo, has stated that countries of the African Region should invest much more in scientific research to build stronger evidence and generate new knowledge and technological innovation in health.

Dr Luis Sambo was speaking in Maputo on 17 September 2012 at the opening of the XIV Scientific Health Days that is taking place under the theme “Instituting Research to Contribute to Health Improvement in Mozambique”. Dr Sambo has been in Mozambique since 15 September on an official visit at the invitation of the Mozambican Government.

He argued that increased investment in research will “contribute to improving health systems performance and the health status of the populations”.

Citing more recent statistics, Dr Sambo said that the WHO African Region has made progress towards achieving the MDGs. “Even so, that progress remains below expectation. He reiterated that malaria continues to claim many lives; efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS infection have not been sufficient to curb the persistently high incidence of HIV and AIDS; HIV/TB co-infection and the growing threat of multidrug-resistant TB pose a formidable challenge”.

Dr Sambo went on to say that chronic diseases, injuries from road traffic accidents and domestic violence are also serious public health problems requiring more adequate response through preventing the common risk factors such as alcoholism, tobacco use, lack of exercise and certain unhealthy dietary habits.

He commended the Government of Mozambique for devoting attention to health research, especially the fact that there already exist a National Institute of Health, a national network of resource centres, a strategic plan and a prospect of having a national health research agenda.

He however emphasized that the National Institute of Health was facing financial difficulties that could undermine plans for its extension. He therefore called for an increase in both domestic funding and external funding.

For his part, the Minister of Health of Mozambique, Dr Manguele, acknowledged that investing in health research would yield significant cost-effective dividends in health indicators, leading to a healthier people, and is therefore more likely to contribute to development.

“We have no doubt that research carried out by our institutions can play an important role in improving health indicators and increasing the human development index in Mozambique’, Dr Manguele stated.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Dr Venancio Massingue, disclosed that “in 2010 gross expenditure in health research was slightly higher than 596 million Meticais as opposed to 161 million Meticais in 2008. We appreciate the trend that health has been undergoing in terms of human resources for scientific research.” He added that “from 2008 to 2010 the number of health researchers increased from 60 to 209.”

Professor Massingue conceded that the figures represented a major contribution towards strengthening scientific research not only for health but also for implementation of the Human Resources for Science and Technology Development Plan under which nearly 6500 scientists are scheduled to be trained at the Masters and Doctorate levels by 2025.

He commended the African Region of the World Health Organization for providing unconditional support towards the holding of this meeting.

The XIV Scientific Health Days which will end on 21 September 2012 has currently brought together academics, national and international researchers, students and development partners, among others.

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