Deputy Minister of Health addresses researchers at UP

Posted on August 26, 2013

Within the declared mission of the University of Pretoria, the Faculty of Health Sciences strives to promote, within intellectually stimulating surroundings, the general health of the South African population by contributing significantly to the knowledge of health sciences through establishing, developing and maintaining research in a proactive research climate.

It is in this spirit of proactive research that the Faculty of Health Sciences has made a commitment to create a platform for its students and staff members to excel and showcase their research work and skills to the rest of the Faculty through the Faculty Research Day, which is held annually in August.

The main purpose of the Faculty Research Day is to give researchers and students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) an opportunity to present their research findings to the Faculty.

The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, said the University of Pretoria associates itself with excellence by the innovations and scientific breakthroughs to the resolution of problems faced by the society it serves and to the overall advancement of humanity. She commended the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria for prioritising research in health and investing in developing skills in the area of health knowledge generation and innovation in basic sciences.

Deputy Minister Ramokgopa said the Department of Health had studied South Africa’s scientific performance during 2000-2010 and found that research publications were on the increase, but despite all that the country did not perform as well as expected in terms of the effectiveness of the health system and health outcomes during the same period. “It may have been because of lack of communication between policy makers and the clinical and medical practitioners. Thus, there was a need to look more at health science research that is responsive and that is positioned to contribute to the development of applied research that is relevant”, she said.

Deputy Minister Ramokgopa added that funding for health research came from multiple sources and the Department of Health was working together with the National Innovation System led by the Department of Science and Technology to increase funding.  She said the Medical Research Council also had transformed itself to be aligned to the priorities of the health of the people. “I wish to congratulate the Medical Research Council, which co-ordinates research done by universities, for having increased the funding for extramural research centres. The Medical Research Council need to be commended for that as it no longer regards itself as the key centre of research in the country”, said Deputy Minister Ramokgopa.

As research is part of her portfolio in the Ministry of Health, Deputy Minister Ramokgopa has made a proposal for the establishment of regular forums for exchanging various research breakthroughs in a more effective way.

The Deputy Minister also called for mutually beneficial academic linkages with the Department of Health at national, regional and international levels. “There is no doubt that the University of Pretoria is considered as a premier research institution both by its local and international peers. We would also like to collaborate with international institutions such as the WHO, UNAIDS and STOP TB, and to help the world find solutions particularly relevant to the developing world”, added Deputy Minister Ramokgopa.

The Deputy Minister commended the University of Pretoria as being one of the centres of excellence in research and innovation as well for the development of health scientists. “I wish you well in our common journey to ensure that the research that you are carrying out provides solutions to the current problems in the health sector, at both clinical and public health level, but it also contributes to the advancement of humanity”, she concluded.

The Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria, Prof Eric Buch, said the Faculty was committed to growing its research output: “We have increased the number of post-doctoral fellows and our output has increased by about 300 publications in journals every year”, he said.

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