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15.04.2004 Regional News

"Apply Research Findings for Solution of National Problems"--Mahami

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Navrongo (U/E), April 14, GNA- The Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Mahami Salifu on Wednesday underscored the need for government to make conscious effort to ensure that research findings are effectively applied to various aspects of the economy.

He said applying evidence-based research findings for making policies that are practical and relevant to the needs of the people was very important because "government must know what are the right policy alternatives for a given problem before asking the technocrats to implement the policy".

The Regional Minister was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of a series of activities planned to mark the 10th Anniversary celebration of the Navrongo Demographic Surveillance System (NDSS) of the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC) at Navrongo in the Kassena Nankana District.

Mr. Salifu emphasized the need for continuous, accurate and timely information on key population events such as births, deaths and marriages that would serve as reference point for rational policies for service delivery on health and other sectors of the economy. He commended the Navrongo Health Research Centre for establishing the NDSS as the backbone for its various applied health studies, some of which have led to the adoption of national policies, particularly on the vitamin "A" supplementation trials on diets and the use of treated mosquito bed nets for malaria control.

Mr. Salifu urged the NHRC as part of its mandate and social responsibility, to collaborate with its donor partners, the district health authorities and local communities as well as the District Assembly to find practical ways of containing the rapid spread of HIV in the district, with a prevalence rate of about 5.1 per cent.

A former Director of NHRC, Professor Fred Binka, in an inaugural speech read on his behalf, said Demographic Surveillance Systems (DSSs) provide the ideal platform for health researchers all over the world to analyse trends in the specific causes of deaths, illnesses, births and migration, thus enabling them to understand the causes and context within which diseases occur for health policy-making.

He said until national registration systems of vital events such as births, deaths, marriages and migration trends become more effective and widely used in poor countries, demographic surveillance systems would continue to be the most practical alternatives for gathering data on population and health issues.

Prof. Binka made it clear that for countries like Ghana and other third world nations, data collected from DSSs are very important for monitoring health-related development goals, especially those geared towards reducing child mortality and improved maternal health. Prof. Binka urged government and its major development partners in the health sector to make good use of the Centre and support its continued existence, describing it as "one of the greatest population resources in the world".

The Director of the Centre, Dr. Abraham Hodgson, in his address, said the NDSS was set up as part of the overall agenda of establishing the NHRC to research into health problems facing the people of Northern Ghana so as to inform policy decisions on possible interventions that would improve the health of the people.

The NDSS has a database covering the total population of the Kassena Nankana District, and continuously keeps track as well as updates births, deaths marriages and migration on regular basis. He said through the surveillance system, the Centre has over the years been able to carry out groundbreaking researches that have influenced national policy in the areas of vitamin "A" supplementation trial, the bed net experimentation and the community health and family planning project.

Besides, Dr. Hodgson said the research activities of the Centre currently focuses on malaria, cerebro-spinal meningitis, community health and family planning as well as adolescent sexual and reproductive health, including female genital circumcision. He said the Centre has also received a grant to research into issues related to HIV counselling and the National Health Insurance Programme and that work would soon begin. The Director expressed appreciation to the chiefs and people of the area, the district assembly, the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service and its donor partners for their support.