Dr. Ferguson noted that more research is required to effectively deal with the outbreak, noting that what many persons have been reporting as being symptoms of the illness are, in some instances, dissimilar to data contained in material compiled on the virus.
“I believe the academic community must be prepared with support coming from the National Health Fund (NHF), to do the scholarly work that is necessary in relation to our experience (with Chik-V),” he said.
The Minister, who was addressing the 5th staging of the National Health Research Conference on November 27, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, said there are gaps in data in a number of areas, for which research “can assist us to create solutions that can benefit a number of our citizens”.
He noted for example, that “we have diseases such as lupus for which we need to gather more information towards putting in place policies that can improve the lives of persons affected by these health issues.”
“Our goal in health is to put systems in place to ultimately improve the lives of Jamaicans. This requires effort and partnership from all segments of the society and particularly those involved in research so that we can be guided by the information we need to make evidence based decisions and formulate evidence based policies,” he said.
The Minister thanked those who have done studies, as well as researchers, who have made significant contributions to the country’s knowledge of the treatment and management of issues such as malnutrition and sickle cell anaemia, among other disease conditions.
“I want you to continue along this path and increase your areas of focus, paying particular attention to issues that are significantly affecting our population,” he said.
In the meantime, the Minister noted he has requested that the NHF focus more resources on research and health promotion initiatives, noting that the Fund has already spent $50 million this fiscal year on supporting research projects, and will increase its focus on this area.
He said it is “totally inadequate” that in the NHF’s 10 years of operation, only $1 billion was spent on health promotion and prevention and research, while over $20 billion went into institutional and individual benefits.
Held under the theme: ‘Healthy Individual, Healthy Community, Healthy Nation,’ the two-day conference seeks to highlight research carried out within the Ministry and educational institutions, while stimulating greater interest in research in health generally.
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