A hope for equity

Bamako 2008 opening ceremonyBringing together various ministers of health, science, research and higher education along with researchers, nongovernmental organisations, civil society representatives, funders, the private sector and others for a three-day conference in Mali’s capital city of Bamako was definitely a Herculean task to begin with.

Add to that an Air France pilot strike the exact weekend the conference began, and it’s a wonder that the organisers didn’t have a collective nervous breakdown.

But despite the potential logistical chaos for delegates travelling via Paris and an hour’s delay in the opening ceremony, there was no confusion whatsoever among the organising partners of Bamako 2008 on what they feel needs to be done in research for health.

While research into the prevention and treatment of diseases is a no-brainer, there was an equal emphasis on research into health delivery systems so that governments have the scientific evidence on which to make informed decisions on health policies.

The next challenge, as stated in WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan’s speech, is to get these political leaders to pay attention to these research results and incorporate them into all governmental policies and departments (not just health) to achieve health equity.

So will the ministers at least aim to listen more to researchers? We await the Bamako Call to Action on Wednesday.

Shiow Chin Tan, SciDev.Net

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