Archive for October 5, 2011

SCIENCE PLANNING IN ALGERIA

October 5, 2011

SCIENCE PLANNING IN ALGERIA

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Governance is the main obstacle to science & technology development in many developing countries or DCs. As a matter of fact, Algeria falls squarely within the orbit of such DCs whose sciences haven’t gone far away beyond the ‘take-off’ or infancy phase.

Algeria gained independence from France way back in 1962 yet, and many 3rd world countries showered Algeria with accolades for the audacity shown in expunging a Western power. Such an independence hasn’t been translated though into waging audacious initiatives aimed at producing scientists & science professors, building research capital expenditures, broadening research journal publications, and linking science & technology directly to market and enthused end-users.

Red tape and budgetary delays or so mark the day for science research & development in Algeria, amid the re-definition of science as priority in 2007. The problem lies in governance, in other words, which leaves the challenge of reforming bureaucracy to accelerate the ‘growth’ phase of science R&D in the country.

Below is a relevant report from the SciDev.net about the subject.

[Philippines, 04 October 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/science-and-innovation-policy/finance/news/algeria-plans-further-growth-for-science.html
Algeria plans further growth for science
Toufik Bougaada
15 September 2011
[ALGIERS] Algeria is pressing ahead with further increases to its science budget, according to a report presented by the Ministry for Scientific Research at a meeting chaired by the country’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
The budget has already increased to one per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) — three times what it was five years ago — and this is expected to increase to 1.2 per cent next year, notes the report.
But, despite these increases, critics say that excessive bureaucracy is forcing research teams to abandon their work, and that the lack of a skilled workforce is preventing new investment from leading to high-calibre output.
The report is a review of Algeria’s 2008–2012 framework, which aims to boost national scientific research and technological development.
The deputy minister for scientific research, Souad Bendjaballah, who presented the report at the meeting, said that 260 research laboratories have been approved, as have 25 new research centres. A national online documentation system has also been launched.
Plans for 2011–2012 include the establishment of a national council for scientific research and technological development, and a number of technology transfer centres.
Researchers acknowledge that Algeria has achieved much since science became a priority in 2007 — probably more than in any other period since the country’s independence in 1962. However, they say that current efforts face several obstacles.
Abdel Malek Rahmani, coordinator of Algeria’s National Council of Higher Education Teachers , told SciDev.Net that a lack of equipment and funds is not the main problem. “Management and operations are the obstacles,” he said.
Money alone cannot make up for the lack of supportive environments for research, he added. There has been “non-rational exploitation of resources[in attempting] to move from a primary stage of scientific research to an advanced one”.
Mohamed Semati, a geology researcher at the University of Constantine, said: “Administrative red tape is still a major impediment to scientific research, and the main reason for poor results, despite the development strategy that the country is trying to put in place. Many research teams have stopped their work because of the administrative obstacles they face.”
The availability of a skilled workforce is another barrier, added Abdul Kadhum Al Aboudi, a professor of nuclear physics at the University of Oran.
“Money is not the main engine for the advancement of scientific research, although it is important. Despite the progress made in the past four years, Algeria has not yet been able to develop a scientific elite who are able to create wealth from scientific research,” he said.
Bendjaballah has agreed, stating in a national television interview that the science sector is spending only half the budget it has been allocated, and that many projects are not implemented because they lack an experienced workforce.
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TRADITIONAL MEDICINE’S ASCENT IN AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES

October 5, 2011

TRADITIONAL MEDICINE’S ASCENT IN AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

A humungous lot of peoples in developing countries or DCs are dependent on traditional & alternative medicine. Related updates show that as much as 80% of DC peoples rely on traditional medicine for preventive and curative purposes.

African universities, it seems, have been pretty slow on recognizing traditional medicine as part of medical paradigms and solutions. This is understandable, given the long history of Africa’s colonization to Western powers. Africa’s medical specialists and experts were trained by the West, and so there seems to be no turning back on the biomedical paradigm bias such experts have acquired from their Western mentors.

Gladly enough, the situation today is changing. Traditional medicine has observably been gaining grounds in African universities, and hopefully there would be a co-existence of diverse medical paradigms to fit diverse end-users across the continent.

Below is a report from SciDev.net about the brightening development in the medical fields in the continent.

[Philippines, 04 October 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/traditional-medicine/news/traditional-medicine-gains-ground-in-african-universities.html
Traditional medicine gains ground in African universities
Emeka Johnkingsley
15 September 2011
The number of African countries with national policies on traditional medicine increased almost fivefold between 2001 and 2010, according to a report on a decade of traditional medicine on the continent.
The report, launched at a meeting of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa two weeks ago (29 August–2 September), also found that the number of countries with strategic plans for traditional medicine increased from zero to 18 in the same period, and those with national regulatory frameworks rose from one to 28.
In 2010, 22 countries conducted research on traditional medicines for malaria, HIV/AIDS, sickle-cell anaemia, diabetes and hypertension using WHO guidelines.
According to the WHO, roughly 80 per cent of people in developing countries depend on traditional medicine for their primary healthcare.
Some African universities had incorporated traditional medicine into the curricula for medical and pharmacy students, the report found. Health ministers and the WHO African regional office agreed at the meeting to promote this integration as a way of increasing research in the field.
Karniyus Gamaniel, director-general of Nigeria’s National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), said: “This is a very good development … The issue of curricula in medical and pharmacy schools is fundamental as this would provide the right orientation and sensitisation of younger people to begin to develop career lines in this direction.”
The WHO regional director for Africa, Luis Gomes Sambo, who presented the report, stressed that having national policies on traditional medicine placed the conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants in the arena of public health.
He called on African institutes to compile inventories of medicinal plants and to conduct research on the safety, efficacy and quality of medicinal plants.
Tamunoibuomi Okujagu, director-general of the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency, told SciDev.Net that the decision to introduce traditional medicine into medical schools would reduce the cynicism expressed towards the practice in Africa, counteract ‘quackery’ and ensure professionalism.
“A number of our health challenges require traditional medicines,” he said. “Traditional medicine policies are good for Africa.”
Joseph Okogun, a consultant phytochemist at the NIPRD, said the integration of traditional medicines into medical schools was overdue.
“Many people in technologically advanced countries use alternative medicine, which includes traditional medicines. The reason for the increased attention is that traditional medicines have weaker side effects compared with synthetic drugs,” he said, adding that they are also cheaper and often work as combination therapies.
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