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20.06.2006 Health

Africa Must Prioritise Health Sector - Veep

By Times
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Vice President Aliu Mahama has stressed the need for governments in developing countries to prioritise health research by giving the health sector a substantial percentage of their annual budgets.

He said that a conscious effort should be made to fund and strengthen the capacity of local health institutions.

“These sentiments transcend political hyperbole and require the commitment of present and future governments in all developing countries,” said the Vice President at the opening session of the 29th Joint Co-ordinating Board of the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) in Accra yesterday.

The three-day meeting, the first to be held in Africa, will present a platform for a select team of health ministers from developing countries to present their position on the future of health research to the Board.

Under the auspices of the TDR, an initiative of the World Health Organisation, the meeting comes a week after a high level meeting on health research was held in Accra and which was climaxed by a ministerial meeting of health ministers from various developing countries.

Alhaji Mahama noted that further research was needed to tackle infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS which were increasingly resistant to the available drugs such as chloroquine and other antibiotics.

The re- emergence of old infectious diseases that had previously been controlled such as syphilis continue to be the bane of developing countries, he pointed out.

“Even then, there are still other endemic diseases that defy scientific analysis and make victims of such diseases resort to the spiritual realm for cure or to the traditional or alternate medicine for solace.”

He, therefore, challenged policy makers and researchers to conduct some of their research activities in collaboration with established indigenous herbal practitioners into some of the well known 'home-grown' diseases.

Alhaji Mahama indicated that many diseases affecting developing countries in general lack effective diagnosis, preventive interventions or effective treatment options.

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