Zambia committed to maintain science, research in health sector

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Vice President Guy Scott says Zambia is committed to ensuring that science and research is maintained as a bedrock for all health programming and policy formulations.

Speaking during the signature for investing in health in Africa at the US-Africa Summit, Dr. Scott said science and research is the basis upon which quality health can be achieved.

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

He said the realization 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 government has thus 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 further stated that efforts to promote research have been amply rewarded in many ways.

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

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

And Health Minister Joseph Kasonda told journalists in Washington D.C. that the world was looking forward to seeing Africa as a big participant in the area of science and research.

He also said though 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.

Dr. Kasonde 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 Ebola.

He said personnel at entry points of the country are on the lookout for symptoms of the virus and immediately quarantine any individuals suspected of being contaminated with the deadly disease.

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.

The health minister said Zambia initially started ART when an individual’s CD4 count was about 350 but has since moved to 500.

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

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