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Burkina gives science a warm embrace

Research is an aid not only to good health policies – but even to political success, say ministers

SUMMARY: In a interview with RealHealthNews and Burkina TV (RTB) during the annual general and scientific meeting of INDEPTH, the international network of focal demographic surveillance sites, Burkina Faso’s ministers of research and of health revealed that they are impressed by the power and potential of science to solve problems – even when its results are politically sensitive.

>RHN: I understand that research means a lot to health in Burkina. Can you give me an example where research has changed Burkina’s health policy?

Joseph Paré , Burkina Faso’s Minister of Secondary and Higher Education and Research: Well take onchocerciasis for example. We’ve controlled it in various regions only because the techniques that research has taught us, showing us precisely the most effective actions that health workers can take, in the field. There are very many examples.

>RHN: INDEPTH research can be extremely political – because its demographic and health studies reveal inequalities. Is it possible to convert their results into a political action and policy?

JP: Absolutely. Burkina Faso has a government that acts on these things, working in synergy with our development programme – there’s complete synergy between research and our health policy-making. Our overall politics calls on us to struggle against poverty, to improve the living conditions of the population and to make the products they need for their health available at an affordable cost.

>RHN: Minister of Health, does research in general study the things you need? If you were free to ask for what research you liked, what would it be on?

Bedouma Alain Yoda , Burkina Faso’s Minister of Health: My colleague has explained clearly that health, research and politics are one package together. We just could not prepare good health policies without research. In fact we couldn’t even prepare good development policies at all without research.

That’s to say that the research INDEPTH fits in perfectly with our health politics. In fact it’s very important for politics in the general sense, because it’s an aid to making decisions that will have good results!

>Jérémi Sié Koulibaly, for RTB (Burkina TV news): Minister, what is the interest of this INDEPTH health research meeting for Burkina?

BAY: It has enormous interest! In the sense that we couldn’t act effectively against disease today without research! There are new diseases rising in importance in Burkina; and there are old ones that happily we’ve eliminated. Our four health research centres do both fundamental and applied research. Their results are very useful, because they help us to adapt our health policies [to this changing world].

Take malaria for example. The old treatments are no longer effective. Research demonstrated this – and developed new much more effective treatments, in coordination of course with WHO and other development partners.

INDEPTH is a network of over 40 countries, represented at this meeting, to exchange their experience, comparing results in one country with those in another, looking for means to improve the health of their people. Research has no nationality. It’s global.

RealHealthNews interviewed Joseph Paré and Bedouma Alain Yoda while attending the annual general and scientific meeting of the INDEPTH demographic surveillance network in Ouagadougou, courtesy of support by EAGLES, the European Action on Global Life Sciences.



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