The National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health on Friday presented research grants totaling MK166 Million to twelve researchers.
The Research Grants Award Presentation Ceremony was held in Lilongwe at BICC under the theme “Research and Innovation for Socio-economic Development”.
The grants that were awarded are for research projects in agriculture biotechnology and renewable energy with funding from Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGGI) and the Government of Malawi, for projects in health system operations.
The research projects fall within the identified national research priority areas in Malawi.
Speaking after the ceremony, Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda who was also the guest of honor said research is very important in the country in terms of improving the delivery of health services.
“As government we set policy but when we are setting policy we need to set policy based on facts and also based on research.
“There are grants to six researchers from our Ministry, these are different doctors and their topics are well thought and they will assist us because they are looking at the experience of the health workers who are involved in the covid-19 pandemic, but also they are looking at how we can manage our data in the Ministry of Health, in all hospitals. We are very excited for them and also for the initiatives which they are doing which will help us as a ministry going forward,” said Chiponda.
In her remarks, Deputy Minister of Education Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima said research plays a very critical role in the country and is very crucial in every sector in the country.
“There is a lot of research that is done to discover things that can improve way of life, but also just to inform policy makers and also inform politicians on how certain things are supposed to be done. So research is very important and research is coming from education sector but it impacts all sectors of our lives,” said Wirima.
In his remarks, Chairperson of the Scientific and Awards Committee at National Commission for Science and Technology Professor Chomora Mikeka said the country should expect researchers to bring results that will help the country in many ways.
“I think in the process of review and screening the kind of research that have been granted today, the emphasis also has been looking at ethical disposition of the researchers, demonstrated ability and their capability to make sure that they are able to produce results which will be solid in the areas which we have highlighted, bioagriculture, biotechnology which we are talking of bio fertilizer but also the aspect of health systems enhancement.
“So these researchers we have confidence that they should be able to provide results and also may have a forum to test to what they have produced with the funding they have received,” said Mikeka.
One of the awardees Dr Grace Mzumara of Mzimba district Hospital who received 1.1 million kwacha, said her research is going to be based at Mzimba South district Hospital and focuses on excess mortality during Covid-19 pandemic in Mzimba South in the year 2020.
“So we just want to know if more deaths happened in 2020 on average, when compared on average to the number of deaths that happened in 2015-2019. So the research will help us understand if there were indirect causes of deaths for example if you find out on average that more people died in 2020 compared to the number of deaths in another year then we will know that something else was happening in the system not just Covid-19.
“The second thing is we want to strengthen health information systems that means we want to show how important it is to have reliable health information systems that help you to know on time vital statistics, so simple things like death and birth date. we need to create a system where it is very quick and very easy to get that data, so we want to develop data collection tool that can help gather that information and give back the information in time,” said Mzumara.
Six grants were presented in the health systems operations research and another six grants in renewable energy and agriculture biotechnology.
One of grantees include Professor Wales Singini of Mzuzu University whose collaborative project received K 22. 5 Million. Other recipients include Dr. Limbikani Matumba, Dr. Keston Njira, Dr. Judith Kamoto, Dr. Mapereka Chagunda and Dr. John Taulo.
Six others from various hospitals also received the awards. These include Dr. Mary Chinseu, Mrs Beatrice Gundo, Dr. Patrick Kamoto, Dr. Ichabod Mhone, Dr. Grace Mzumara and Mrs Leah Chirwa.