Gaborone, Botswana - 15 October 2019: The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, convened a two-day meeting of the African Advisory Committee on Health Research and Development where she welcomed new members and thanked those who served in the previous committee for accepting to join the committee. She requested a moment of silence in remembrance of the late Professor Bongani Mayosi who chaired the previous committee.
Dr Moeti intimated that the purpose of the committee is to advise the Regional Director on WHO's core function of "Shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge". She said the recommendations of the committee would help WHO support Member States to plug gaps often observed in the areas of research norms, infrastructure and funding. She emphasized the importance of strong political commitment, country ownership and active involvement in the generation and utilization of research.
Dr Moeti further indicated that research and innovation are critical for achievement of the WHO 13th Global Programme of Work and the Sustainable Development Goals with particular focus on Primary Health Care and Universal Health Coverage. Research and innovation will help "focus global public goods on impact and ensure that WHO is a knowledge-based organization facilitating normative guidance and agreements, sharing of data and scaling of innovations" she said. In closing she reminded the committee that working together, they can ensure that evidence informs decisions and actions for better health in the Region. The committee's tenure is for three years beginning 1st October 2019.
Earlier when welcoming the Regional Director and committee members, the WHO Representative to Botswana, Dr Josephine Namboze said that the reconstitution of the committee and the breadth of its expertise come at an opportune moment as WHO implements its new Global Programme of Work alongside the AFRO Transformation Agenda initiated by the Regional Director. She emphasized the need to harness all resources including working and coordinating better with research institutions to ensure that research is not only serving the purposes of the researchers but addressing the needs of countries. She also wished that research by government partners would have enough funding to inform actions that lead to better results and impact.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary responsible for Policy, Planning and Research in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Mr Moses Keetile attended part of the meeting. He welcomed the committee and thanked WHO for choosing Botswana as host of the meeting. He said the forum was opportune, informative and in congruence with his Ministry's efforts to revitalize its Research Agenda, and the work already on-going in the country of engaging with Academia and Research Institutions for the institutionalization of research in the country.
The meeting was held at Botswana's premier conference venue, the Gaborone International Convention Centre, from 14th to 15th October, 2019. Its main objectives included reflections on how to further the functioning of the AACHRD; deliberating on how to respond to AFROs health research priorities and how to maximize the utility of health research capacities in countries and strengthen WHO regional research collaborations.