UNESCO - MERCK Africa Research Summit (MARS) opens in Mauritius

Ebène , Mauritius (PANA) - The third edition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) - MERCK Africa Research Summit (MARS) opened on Tuesday at Ebène, in the centre of the island.

Addressing the participants, Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim said Africa faces considerable challenges to the health and wellbeing of its people, and has far to go to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially those relating to poverty and diseases.

"Though Africa is home to 15% of the world's population, the continent produces only 3% of Global Gross Domestic Product and carries 25% of the disease burden." she said.

The President added that Africa accounts for only 2% of world research output, 1.3% of research findings and 0.1% of patents.

She stressed that a greater frontal push in science, technology and innovation are key to sustaining the African rising narrative both now and in the future.

With reference to the opportunities provided by the UNESCO-MARS initiative to contribute to building research capacity in the African research community, especially among the future generation of scientists, the President viewed the summit as an essential building block in developing sustainable infrastructure to boost world class training and scientific connectivity in Africa.

Mrs Gurib-Fakim emphasised that the holding of the summit is valuable to Mauritius as it complements the national strategy to promote scientific research, empower women and youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as espouses the Ministry of Health’s strategy on improving health research and access to cancer care.

She called for the establishment of the Coalition for African Research and Innovation, an alliance of African science leaders and international funders working together to catalyse greater investments in African research with a view for African nations to take ownership and set research agendas, while enabling researchers to work equitably with global partners.

“Through the commitment of scientific experts, increased investments in research and development and the power of partnerships, we can improve everyday lives of African citizens,” she said.

President Gurib-Fakim said she was concerned about the growing incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) on the continent, before urging Africans to view the threats posed by NCDs for what they are and to mobilise resources in a manner that is proportional to the severity of the challenges.

She invited Africans to take advantage of accumulated experiences from industrialised countries which have been confronted to decades of increased type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and strokes, certain cancers, infertility and complications in pregnancy.

“Not only must we seize the opportunity and build our capacity to deal with these threats through the power of partnership but we also have to extrapolate on African success stories in the technology sector where entrepreneurs have been able to take advantage of the relative lack of infrastructure to leapfrog directly to better market-based solutions,” the President advocated. 

The two-day UNESCO - Merck Africa Research Summit 2017 gathers participants from academia, research institutions, international funding organisations of health and medical research, representatives of Medical Councils, non-governmental organisations, emerging and established researchers, and scientists.
-0- PANA NA/MA 29Nov2017

29 november 2017 07:26:34

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