The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology has expressed dismay over the growing tendency of researchers to keep their findings in shelves instead of availing them to the public for application.
Dr Florens Turuka who was speaking at the 26th Annual Joint Scientific Conference, organised by the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), called on researchers to ensure their studies contributed to national development.
“I call upon research institutions to ensure that their findings are translated and made available for the country’s socio-economic development to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he said.
He further explained that the public and policy makers need to be fully aware of the research findings and utilise them for the benefit of the society.
The PS stressed that research institutions have an imperative role to make sure that their findings reach the intended people, so that they use it for their own benefit and the country.
He also called upon NIMR to exercise its mandate to the fullest; use different forums and meetings to relay proper health messages in a language that can be grasped by ordinary people, who are the target. “In this way, we can eventually improve the health and well-being of our people and the world at large,” Dr Turuka said.
“The government is committed to ensuring that Tanzania meets MDGs and it recognises that research has a big role to play towards achieving the set goals,” he said, pledging to provide enough support to the country’s research institutions including NIMR.
According to Turuka, the 12-year-old MDGs were aimed at freeing humanity from extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and diseases.
He however stated that increasing hunger still poses a global challenge and that progress made in reducing maternal deaths is not encouraging. Progress in gender equality is also insufficient, he said.
Earlier, Vice President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal said Tanzania made commendable strides in efforts to reduce child mortality.
“The country’s performance in reducing child mortality indicated that we’re on the right track and most likely will achieve the MDGs,” he said, citing recent statistics, which show child mortality rate in 2010 standing at 51 and under-five mortality at 81 per 100,000 live births.
He also observed that in 1990 infant mortality rate was 191 per 100,000, dropping to 153 in 2000 and 112 in 2008.
He said the gains that have been made in reducing childhood mortality are largely attributed to the significant improvement in the country’s expanded immunisation programme and malaria intervention.
The VP further noted that despite the achievements, the current maternal health situation is still challenging.
For instance, he said: “Despite a high coverage of 96 percent in pregnant women who attend at least one antenatal clinic only half of them (51 percent) have access to skilled delivery.”
According to the Vice President, coverage of emergency obstetric services is about 65 percent and utilisation of modern family planning method is 27 percent. Only about 13 percent of home deliveries access post natal check-up.
“Maternal mortality is still unacceptably high and remains a serious concern in our country. This is an area that needs an urgent attention within the remaining period before 2015.”
Dr Bilal was optimistic that the current strategies in addressing MDGs could be greatly enhanced if the interventions are evidence-informed and assisted by implementation research and well-designed monitoring and evaluation.