Health ministry to develop research agenda
The Ministry of Health is to develop a research agenda aimed at effectively enhancing its policies and programmes.
Establishment of a strong health research system has been identified as one of the priority areas of the ministry to be achieved by 2015/16.
Speaking at the opening of the Faculty of Medical Sciences' annual research conference and workshop at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, recently, Portfolio Minister, Dr Fenton Ferguson said this plan will be carried out under the guidance of a re-established Essential National Health Research Committee.
He noted that the ministry is looking to partner with key researchers, given that they have "made significant contribution to our knowledge of the treatment and management of issues such as malnutrition and sickle-cell anaemia, among other disease conditions".
Dr Ferguson noted the ministry has been working to improve its research capacity, by embarking on its own studies and supporting various research by academia, through the annual staging of the National Health Research conference, among other strategies.
The minister said the focus on high-quality health research and information sharing is even more vital, as the global community grapples with the Ebola outbreak.
"Ebola is one of the deadliest viral infections that we have seen in modern times and there is currently no cure. The world faces a situation where there is increased dependence on research as a possible solution to develop a regime to counter the spread of Ebola through the development of medicines and vaccines," he said.
The minister noted that, for the first time, the World Health Organization has endorsed the use of experimental drugs, which have not been tested on the human population, for the treatment of Ebola, which he said, "shows the desperation which is there to find a way to stem the spread of (the virus) and protect the health of the world".
Dr Ferguson informed that during his recent visit to Cuba he asked that "if at any time they become involved with any type of research for Ebola, that they involve the Ministry of Health, Jamaica. I am keen on increasing our research portfolio and finding partnerships towards this objective."
In the meantime, Dr Ferguson praised the UWI Mona, for continuing to provide information through research that has assisted the Government in formulating health policies.
"The continued sharing of information and ensuring that research is at the top of our national health agenda will be the only way that we can create evidence-based policies and programmes to improve health outcomes for our people and strengthen our health system," he said.
The minister added that he has also requested that the National Health Fund focus more resources on research and health promotion initiatives "so that the ministry's policies can have a solid foundation on which to move towards health solutions for the people of Jamaica".