WHO Rallies Researchers To Fast Track Uganda’s Health SDGs.


Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam Addressing the UVRI Staff during the Symposium.
Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam Addressing the UVRI Staff during the Symposium.

Describing as a slow pace at which governments in the developing world are fast tracking the sustainable development goal (SDG) on health, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Uganda Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam has called for increased acceleration and joint effort from governments and respective sector players so as to ensure that one of the global commitments of the SDGs of “No one is left behind” is realized.

Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam who was speaking during the Makerere University – Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) Centre of Excellence for infection and Immunity Research And Training (MUII-Plus) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Symposium at the MRC/UVRI headquarters in Entebbe on Thursday noted that governments and their respective health institutions need to work together to ensure that the SDGs on health are realized.

We need to do better, we need to accelerate by working together because one or a few institutions cannot achieve the goal. Matters to do with health are inter-linked and as a result, we want to see research institutions and the academia join the movement of pushing for sustainable development”.”It’s important that we align, accelerate and account by making sure that there is synergy which calls for collaboration between different institutions, research institutions and practically working with the community, he added.

UVRI Staff and other participants pose for a group photo.
UVRI Staff and other participants pose for a group photo.

Dr. Woldemariam noted that there is need to achieve frontline health systems in both the developed and developing worlds “We are lagging behind in ensuring that health is at the heart of the community”, explained Dr. Yonas Tegegn. He emphasized the role of governments and international communities in ensuring resource provision, especially finances, as these were key to attainment of the SDGs. He further commended the role of researchers at the UVRI for their role in addressing the SDGs.

. “World Health Organization (WHO) is highly committed to leadership on matters critical to health which go along with shaping the research agenda and contributing to evidence based policy formulation to create the enabling environment for all stakeholders to function. Health and Education are the two things that touch the heart of any society, organization or community and that’s where Uganda Virus Research Institute’s (UVRI) contribution is most useful because the international community is realizing the power of data and research (innovation)”, added Dr. Yonas.

Speaking about the symposium held under the theme, “Research in Context; Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the Director UVRI noted that it’s important that the institute’s work contributes to the attainment of the SDGs, particularly those regarding health.

“Sometimes we do work in our laboratories and get excited as scientists but forget that whatever we do has to lead to something that will benefit the population in terms of policy and practice”.

Dr. Charles Olaro (L) and Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu during the Symposium.
Dr. Charles Olaro (L) and Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu during the Symposium.

He added that it is a government requirement that UVRI and all other government ministries, departments and agencies fit into the SDGs “When we make our plans to seek for funding from Ministry of finance, we are required to demonstrate how our work relates to the National Development Plan (NDP) and to the SDGs. It is therefore important to tell our young scientists that when they do work (research) it should relate to some of the Sustainable Development Goals”, stressed Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu.

Meanwhile, Dr. Olaro Charles, the Director Health Services in Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed that MOH is ready to work with research bodies and ensure that the research is translated into policy and it is also transplanted into implementation.

“Research forms part of monitoring and evaluation and as institutions we should engage in community responsive research to be able to address specific issues in the community that will also help us to do interventions which are effective and cost benefit to the community. Research is the way to go and all our plans as Ministry of Health (MOH) should have research embedded into it. However, Uganda like any other country, the resources are limited and this calls for research financing through partnerships and collaborations”, noted Dr. Olaro.

Prof. Allison Elliot, the Director Makerere University/UVRI Centre of Excellence in infection and immunity, Research and Training (MUII Plus) noted that the Centre aims at building capacity of African scientists to address African challenges. “Our vision 2040 is Africa leading advances in Infection and Immunity research, with transformative impact on African health, and that will provide a platform for our scientists to contribute towards the SDGs”.




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