MOZAMBIQUE: New research institutions planned

Mozambique is planning to increase the number of scientific institutions as part of a strategic bid to enable better use of trained staff and to fight grinding poverty currently affecting half of its 20 million people. The Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Heath have formalised a five-year memorandum of understanding aimed at promoting science and technology research.

Minister of Science and Technology Venancio Massingue and Minister of Health Ivo Garrido agreed on cooperation regarding human resources in the area of research, and under the agreement the Science and Technology Ministry will support the Health Ministry with a recently launched masters degree course in Public Health that currently has 15 students. More research institutes are expected to be created over time.

Massingue said the course was an important instrument for staff training, and would allow full use of trained human resources.

"The memorandum will allow trained staff to give a 100% contribution through practices that have a great impact in the communities," he said, adding that research should not be only for publication and conferences but should also produce solutions to the problems people face.

Health Minister Ivo Garrido said the memorandum was fundamentally aimed at training more highly qualified staff to think of paths the country must travel to solve its problems.

The health department currently has 28,000 workers, a figure that is expected to increase to 30,000 by 2009. "The reflection about where we are heading must be done by us and the training of highly qualified staff is extremely important for solving many problems", Garrido said.

Cooperation between these two ministries is part of a National Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy, which falls under a Strategic Plan for Training and Development of Human Resources for the Science and Technology area as well as a Human Resources Development Plan for the Health Sector, all approved by the government.

Two decades ago Mozambique emerged from a long colonial war and, about 10 years ago, ended a civil war and entered a period of democracy, peace and political stability.

Although one of the poorest countries in the world, Mozambique has established an economic policy based on free competition and stimulation of the private sector.

Massingue said Mozambique would continue to be an important voice in international debates about the opportunities and challenges of science and research, and over the last decade had made significant progress towards the rebuilding of infrastructure - with a particular focus on education.