Innovators in the health sector have called on government to inject more funding into research and development. Speaking at PATH’s roundtable discussion, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Senior Researcher Dr Janine Scholefield says South Africa has skilled individuals to deal with the challenges facing the sector.

However, Scholefield adds that there is lack of capacity.  “We have the talent, we have skills sets, what we don’t have is capacity.  In my point of view, it is capacity that we are lacking. We have got individuals with expertise, we just have a handful of them and that relies on funding. “

Hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosebank, the discussion focused on universal health coverage.  According to Scholefield, additional funding into health research and development also has potential to ease the country’s economic burden.

“We spend an inordinate amount of money on HIV drugs, on adverse drug reactions, on hospitalisation; if we could prevent that from happening by doing research we can alleviate the fiscal responsibility of the departments like the Department of Health. It also means that if you have a healthier population, you have a greater group of people who can contribute to the workforce, so that alleviates a problem. Then you add another layer which is innovation in research and development means that you can actually start creating job opportunities within the country that are unique to our capabilities. “ Click below to listen to Dr Janine Scholefield: 

 

Another panel member, Founder of Iyeza Health Sizwe Nzima says while innovation is important, it is useless if it cannot reach the end-user. Nzima has challenged other innovators to find ways of ensuring that their products are accessible to patients. The company, which currently delivers medication to patients, plans to put together patient education on an App.

Information on the App will include symptoms of diseases and side effects. Click below to listen to Sizwe Nzima: