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African Govts Must Invest More In Health Research – Expert

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By Staff Reporter


AFRICA has not contributed much on the global research output on Covid-19, an expert has said.

Speaking at the launch of Health Communicators Forum (HCF) in Harare recently, Dr Tinashe Gede, a specialist Physician and Public Health Specialist said Africa as a continent has not contributed much on research about Covid-19 considering the population it carries.

The HCF is a network of health journalists and health communicators in Zimbabwe.

It was recently launched in Harare and is set to capacitate journalists through networking with medical and public health experts as well as other regional and international health journalists’ network.

“I guess Africa is over 50 countries all which are different in some ways. It’s fair to say that if you look at global research out on Covid-19, Africa has not contributed much in terms of research considering the population it carries.

“Part of that is the pre-existing research infrastructure for Africa has been poor historically,” said Gede who is also a trained Immunologist.

Outside South Africa, the health expert said, other countries have minimal research capacity.

“I think South Africa have done a lot and they have always done a lot because they protected research budget, they have technology and they have expertise.

“But in terms of contextualising our understanding of Covid for African continent, we are a long way off,” said Gede.

He said there was need for African countries to scale up on engagement.

“We need to scale up our engagement. It`s fine to receive free things, its good because the world is being charitable in trying to help us but some of the issues are unique to Africa.

“There is need for locally generated research to apply to our context and I think there is genuine need for governments to recognise that it’s their obligation in protecting the population by generating scientific evidence to inform policy,” said the expert.

Gede said there should be more funding channelled towards research science on the continent.

“It’s not just in medical terms, a medical is how you treat the diseases, what test should we be doing, when, who needs to be vaccinated, are the vaccines safe; that is important.

“But Covid as a pandemic bigger than health diseases, there is social impact of Covid-19. People have lost their livelihoods, schools have been interrupted and we need to know what impact will that have on society.

“So we need social science and ethical research more than before and I think as the whole of the Sub Saharan region, we need to step up to the plate. We have not covered ourselves in glory in terms of research output. I think a lot more needs to be done,” said Gede.