Regional Consultation on Health Research to achieve the Millennium Development Goals

Brazzaville, 17 April 2004 -- The progress on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Sub Saharan Africa indicates that the goals for poverty reduction would not be realized until 2147 and for improvement of child health until 2165 unless concerted efforts are made. Sadly, Sub Saharan Africa, which represents 12% of the global population, contributes 48% to the global maternal deaths of approximately 529,000 per annum.

Furthermore, premature risk is estimated at 375 per 1000 population (15-60 years) compared to a global figure of 60 per 1000 with respect to Communicable Diseases. In addition, there is an increase in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in countries of the African Region. For example, in 2002, probability of death between 15 and 60 years of age due to NCDs was about 60 per 1000.

These figures are contained in a paper on Health Research Systems priorities presented during a three day Regional Consultation on Health Research to achieve the MDGs. The meeting, which ended on Friday April 16, 2004, was held in preparation for the Ministerial Summit on Health Research to be held in Mexico in November this year.

The paper underlines that the situation is aggravated by weak health systems, HIV/AIDS pandemic, poor funding coupled with low capacity and the increasing incidence of the migration of skilled health workers. Without effective stewardship, adequate funding and competent human resources and infrastructure, the challenge to generate and utilize research data will be insurmountable.

Countries are urged to mobilize more resources for health research; develop human resources capacity for research; support Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to make scientific knowledge easily accessible.

It is also recommended that countries take into consideration cross cutting issues like the Rights-based approaches, equity and ethical issues, gender disparities and poverty reduction as key in the attainment of MDGs.

The meeting recommended that governments take leadership and commitment in spearheading resource mobilization for health research, while WHO should strengthen partnership and networking of research organizations within the African Region and the international community.

The meeting was attended by experts from eleven countries, representatives of the African Health Research Forum (AfHRF), the Global Forum for Health Research (GFHR), the Council on Health Research and Development (COHRED) and WHO.

Speaking on behalf of the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Doyin Oluwole, Director of the Division Family and Reproductive Health noted that, "Without this kind of Regional Consultation, the African Voice can easily go without recognition yet this is the Region in greatest need. In the end, the ownership and achievement of MDGs is the responsibility of each country. Hence the inputs of the participants are very important".

She emphasized that whilst health research may be expensive, ill health is even more expensive and has grave consequences for national development. She drew the attention of the participants to the fact that we live in a competitive world where African researchers compete with the rest of the world for scarce resources. Without adequate capacity to develop research proposals that meet international standards, funding for research will elude us.

The MDGs were adopted by the United Nations in 2000 to provide an opportunity for concerted actions aimed at reducing poverty and improving the lives of people. Four of the MDGs are health related, covering reduction in child mortality, improvement in maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases, eradication of poverty and hunger.


For further information: 

Technical contact    Media contact

Dr James, Regional Advisor

Research Policy and Coordination

Mwanziamwanziaj [at] afro.who.int

Tel: 47 241 39154

                                                                                 

Flavienne Issembè

Public Information & Communication Unit

issembef [at] afro.who.int 

Tel: + 47 241 39352