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Studies detail triumphs, troubles of African innovators creating products for local health needs

Parliament a coherent science and technology policy to coordinate efforts.

Uganda is unique in Africa by establishing its own Millennium Science Initiative an ambitious $30 million project to build science capacity and encourage entrepreneurship through funding industry-research collaboration.

Two universities Makerere and Mbarara stand out in terms of health research, though as yet technology development is weak. Nevertheless, Uganda has several incubators producing low-tech products and moving into higher-tech product like diagnostics. Uganda's pharmaceutical industry has started creating partnerships to encourage health product innovation.

The authors say the personal initiatives of the President (the annual Presidential Science Awards and the Presidential Support Fund, for example), and his government's willingness to fund participation in the Millennium Science Initiative clearly demonstrate political will in Uganda to develop science and technology innovation. As well, activities to support technology transfer and private-public collaboration have been put in motion. In the private sector of Uganda are examples of innovation driven by entrepreneurs and South-South collaboration, to address neglected disease. Lessons can be drawn from their pioneering efforts.

The authors urge the government to put more focus on development of biotechnology, disseminate lessons from innovative initiatives, and support human resource development in health innovation.

Science-based health innovation in Tanzania: bednets and a base for invention

Authors Ronak Shah, Abdallah S. Daar and Peter A. Singer note that Tanzania has gradually undertaken economic reforms that have increased private sector activity and opened the economy to global competition.

However, despite Tanzania's economic growth and its status as one of Africa's biggest aid recipients, health in the country remains poor.

Contact: Terry Collins
McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health

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