The government is planning to start funding future researches that will target providing solutions to challenges facing the public in health sector.
The remarks were made yesterday in Dar es Salaam by Dr Hadija Malima from the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) during a joint press briefing with the National Institute of Medical Research and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) on the forthcoming visit of the Director of the United State’s National Institute of Health (NIH) Dr Francis Collins from 31st July to 1st August.
COSTECH also plans to fund special research that will be conducted by graduates who want to focus on specific areas in the health sector and most especially in diagnostic research.
“We want to move away from dependence on foreign institutions to fund research and we will start by contributing 50 percent of the research funding with the objective of ensuring that research in health sector focus on providing solutions to problems facing the public,” said Dr Halima.
She explained that funding the research will give the government leverage to choose areas that the research will focus on in order to address challenges in the health sector, which is currently not the case because research is funded by foreign institutions.
On his part the MUHAS Vice Chancellor Prof Ephata Kaaya said his institution has been collaborating with NIH in a number of areas including research in areas including HIV/Aids, Malaria, Human Health and DNA.
Prof Kaaya said in 2010 NIH established a new system geared at improving teaching in 12 higher learning institutions in Africa including Tanzania. He said the improved system of teaching has recorded huge impact in the collaborating institution.
In Tanzania the centre was at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) with participation of MUHAS and Bugando Catholic University. Prof Kaaya noted that MUHAS has benefited a lot from the collaborative researches conducted including in HIV/Aids researches which are still going on.
Some of the achievement recorded include more advanced malaria testing kit and mosquito treated nets for prevention of malaria, “We are still continuing with research on malaria vaccine and Tuberculosis.”
On her part the NIMR Director General Dr Mwele Malecela said the US NIH has contributed to medical research and training in the country through various institutions.
“Their support has funded research in HIV, TB, Zoonoses, Mental Health, Alcoholism and Tobacco control and capacity building through tailored training courses and strengthening established formal training programmes in medical colleges,” Dr Malecela explained.
She said Dr Collins will visit ongoing NIH funded projects Tanzania and explore other collaborative opportunities and areas for support.
The NIH is the primary agency of the US government responsible for biomedical and health related research under the department of health and human services. NIH has contributed to training activities within and outside the US.
“Discussions will address dynamics of collaboration in health and research that needs to move from dependence model to a mutual benefit one through innovation,” she explained adding that Dr Collins and the host institutions will discuss alternative models to support research in Sub-Saharan Africa and foster early career scientists.
Dr Malecela said the visit by the NIH Director is a follow up on discussions initiated through a visit made by former President Jakaya Kikwete with the African leader to the NIH in August 2014 during the African Leader Summit with US President Barack Obama.