Science, Research Key to Improved Healthcare – Scott

VICE-PRESIDENT Guy Scott says Zambia is committed to ensuring that science and research are maintained as the bedrock of all health programming and policy formulations.

Speaking during the signing ceremony for Investing in Health in Africa at the US-Africa Leaders Summit, Dr Scott said science and research was the basis upon which quality health could be achieved.

Dr Scott said the Government had adopted the vision to provide equity of access to quality health services as close to the family as possible.

He said the realisation of this vision would be difficult without the country promoting research and using research findings to improve targeting and selection of appropriate interventions for the betterment of people’s lives.

The Vice-President said the Government had set up the Tropical Diseases Research Centre to be the main centre of health-related research.

He also said the country was in the process of setting up a National Health Research Authority to regulate and coordinate all health-related research.

Dr Scott said Zambia had conducted research in malaria treatment which had led to national policy changes in treatment from Chloroquine to Artemisinin Combination-based Therapy (ACT).

The Vice-President also said a cluster-randomised trial in Zambia showed that the provision of ART in maternal child healthcare facilities nearly doubled the uptake of ART by pregnant women.

Health Minister Joseph Kasonde, during an interview with journalists in Washington DC, said the world was looking forward to seeing Africa as a big participant in the area of science and research.

Dr Kasonde also said although the health signature talked about HIV and maternal health, among other issues, much emphasis was placed on the Ebola virus and lessons learnt from it.

He said the message coming out of the signature event was the need for countries to be prepared in the event of an outbreak of the Ebola disease.

The Health minister gave assurance that Zambia was prepared to handle any possible outbreak of the disease.

He said personnel at entry points of the country were told to look out for symptoms of the virus and immediately quarantine any individual suspected of having it.

Dr Kasonde also said America was impressed with the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) in Zambia. He said there were so many limits by the World Health Organisation on when one should be put on ART.

Dr Kasonde said Zambia initially started ART when one’s CD4 count was about 350 but moved to 500.

He said the country later started putting anyone found to be HIV-positive on treatment immediately regardless of their CD4 count.

Dr Kasonde said this resulted in having less infections, thereby making it possible to have an AIDS-free generation.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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