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The amount of research that is coming out of Africa is growing but still at a very low level, it was stated at the UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit held in Addis Ababa from November 28th to 29th 2016.

Speaking at the Summit, Minister of Health Professor Yifru Berhane stated that governments need to pay more attention to the research sector as it is one of the key enablers of development and economic growth.

“We do encourage the commissioning of a lot of health related research. The amount of research that is coming out of Africa, when compared to the rest of the world is very low. High quality studies and research is related with advancing economies, it is through this that big economies in the world right now have reached that position and it is out of these economies that we see much research coming from. In order for Ethiopia and the whole of Africa to grow, we need to invest in more research. Research contributes to identifying the path we need to take to reach and meet different goals,” the Minister said.

He added that, one of the major challenges for the growth of the research sector is that there is a gap between funding and retention of experts in the field.

“Funding as you all know is a huge problem in Africa. Also retaining experts is one of the major challenges that poor countries face. If they are unable to carry out research in their own country that means they cannot work and that leads to them going to other places where the environment is more suitable,” the Minister also said.

He feels that the Ministry of Health does provide a lot of different support for the growth of research, by collaborating with universities and experts in the hopes to reach a better level with the quality as well as the quantity of research that is produced in the country.

The Best African Woman Research Award was also part of the Summit program with the aim of promoting women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The awards are in line with this year’s UNESCO-MARS 2016 theme that supports empowering women in research and building research capacity in Francophone and Anglophone Africa to ultimately improve women’s health in the continent.

Beatrice Nyagol from the Kenya Medical Research Institute was awarded the 1st Woman Researcher Award while Rogomenoma Ouedraogo from the Laboratory of Biology and Molecular Genetics University, Burkina Faso received the 2nd Woman Researcher Award. The 3rd, 4th and 5th Woman Researcher Awards were granted to Sandrine Liabagui ep Assangaboua from Gabon; Maria Nabaggala from the Infectious Diseases Institute, Uganda and Martha Zewdie of Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Ethiopia respectively.