Western Cape Research Priority List Requested by Provincial Health Minister
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, today stressed the importance of the allocation of money towards research. He announced that the Western Cape Department of Health will be undertaking a stakeholder workshop in the first half of this year to deliberate and agree on a broad provincial research priority list.
Addressing researchers and PHD-students at the tenth AstraZeneca Sciences Research Day at the Tygerberg Campus today, Botha explained prior to 1994, health research was not coordinated and regulated in South Africa. This resulted in stakeholders doing research anywhere in the country regardless of whether these activities would benefit affected groups and the population at large. The primary consideration was placed largely on the researchers' agenda rather than national and provincial priorities. On completion of their projects, researchers tended to publish their results without any public oversight and in many instances, government institutions did not share in the ownership of those research outcomes and intellectual property.
The quadruple burden of disease of HIV/AIDS, TB, chronic diseases and trauma that is largely disproportionately distributed within the poor and marginalised in the context of a public service with limited resources to provide services to about three quarters of the population in the province necessitates that public policy and decision making be strategic and based on the best possible information.
Given the history of a poorly-coordinated and un-regulated health research environment both nationally and provincially, the Western Cape wishes to commit itself to embarking on a path that will enable it to adopt measures to set a health research agenda aimed at fostering firm linkages between research, programme management and service delivery. The Western Cape Province is privileged to have significant intellectual capacity in the form of academic institutions, major national research institutions and a vibrant research community. Even though this resource is a national resource, it is however in our "back yard" and thus the coordination and efficient utilisation of this limited resource becomes critical.
While there is broad consensus within the Department of Health that the Burden of Disease, HIV & AIDS, chronic diseases, health system research and operational research are key to maximising health outcomes, province and its partners are still to formulate a coherent research agenda and priorities.
Botha said "I want to make it clear today that I regard research and state-of-the-art equipment to fulfill the task, as a priority, and that it is of the utmost importance to maximise the potential outcomes of research conducted in this province".
To this end the Head of Health has approved that the Department and its partners will undertake a stakeholder workshop in the first half of this year to deliberate and agree on a broad provincial research priority list. "I will ask them to advise me on research legislation for this province, the priority areas and the monetary requirements to maximise the potential".
Botha told the audience that the Western Cape cabinet has a holistic approach on the wellness of our people. "We are mobilising an overall approach that will tackle the separate issues of drug abuse, crime and education in an integrated manner."
Theuns Botha MPP
Western Cape Minister for Health.