The National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) has been given 4 billion by the government of Tanzania to help with the research and development of vaccines for several pandemic diseases. Dr. Godwin Mollel, the Deputy Minister of Health, announced this during the inauguration of the Hubert Kairuki Memorial University (HKMU) scientific conference in Dar es Salaam last week.

“Strengthening Health System Performance and Resilience in Responding to Public Health Emergencies: How is the Future?” is the theme of this year’s conference.

According to Dr. Mollel, science is critical for any country’s development, so the government will continue to invest in the sector to generate more scientists who can help the country handle numerous health issues.

“President Samia Suluhu Hassan has promised to provide NIMR with $6 billion. As I speak, she has already released $4 billion to help with various research and vaccine development in the country,” he said. He also praised the late Professor Hubert Kairuki, the founder of the Kairuki Health Education Network (KHEN), for his aim of being the first Tanzanian to operate a private hospital and health university. 

Prof. Kairuki, according to the Deputy Minister, has made significant investments in the health sector, particularly in the building of Mikocheni hospital, which has helped to relieve congestion in public hospitals by admitting a large number of patients. KHEN, he said, has played a significant role in the healthcare services supplied, while HKMU has played a key role in the training of many medical doctors and nurses who now serve in a variety of public and private healthcare institutions across the country.

He stated that scientists must be prepared and put methods in place to combat various pandemics, such as COVID-19. Professor Yohana Mashallah, Vice-Chancellor of HKMU, stated that communicable diseases pose a greater threat to many poor countries than they do to developed countries. 

He said that the COVID-19 epidemic is proof that the country requires a robust healthcare system to combat numerous diseases in the future. “We need to fortify our healthcare systems so that we can battle pandemics like COVID-19, and we also need to be mindful that COVID-19 is not the last pandemic; there will be many more,” he warned.

Mr. Nimrod Matungwa, President of the Hubert Kairuki Memorial University Student Association (HKMUSA), emphasized in his speech that disease outbreaks and health emergencies can strain health systems, especially vulnerable systems. He stated that the global health community must focus on developing robust and responsive health systems and that there is a significant potential to address health system strengthening efforts during an epidemic response.

 “The majority of frameworks for developing resilient health systems that effectively respond to disease outbreaks focus on improving preparedness or response capacity before an incident or strengthening health systems after a disaster, often during the recovery phase,” he said.

Many parts of epidemic response, he said, set the framework for strengthening the health system, such as improving surveillance systems and training and educating the health workers.

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