CAIRO: The Global Forum for Health Research launched its international conference towards “Combating disease and promoting health in developing countries on Sunday.
First Lady Suzanne Mubarak kicked off the conference, delivering the keynote speech focusing on gender issues.
Mrs. Mubarak suggested that while health issues centered on a woman’s reproductive years have received attention, there is a need to look at the other “neglected years and aspects of a woman’s life. Examples she gave include maternal mortality (100 times more in developing countries than in the West), gender discrimination in nutrition, and violence and exploitation of women.
Dr. Pramilla Senanayake, Chair of the Foundation Council spoke next, and praised Egypt’s medical history, citing Imhotep as perhaps the world’s first doctor, but also highlighted Egypt’s current problems:
“Countries in the region are experiencing changes in disease patterns that mirror those seen in other parts of the world.
Health challenges abound. Old diseases develop resistance to drugs and new infectious diseases emerge every year. The problems of urbanization were also mentioned, including pollution, global warming, and even road traffic accidents.
New Minister of Health and Population Hatem Al-Gabali admitted Egypt’s paucity of health research due to a “limited budget. He had strong “words of challenge for guests as well, claiming that the international community had given little help to Egypt during its avian flu crisis, and that Europe gave “less than .005 cents per [Egyptian].
One person credited for extending help was Dr. David Nabarro, world expert and UN system coordinator on avian flu, who expressed to The Daily Star Egypt his close relationship with the minister since El-Gabaly approached him seeking help with the virus. Nabarro further illuminated influenza concerns currently under discussion such as the great economic repercussions, absenteeism, and resulting security threats.
A principle theme of the conference refers to the 10/90 gap: 10 percent of the world’s spending on health research addresses the needs of 90 percent of the population.
Over 600 attendees and 150 presenters from more than 90 different countries are participating in the 10th annual forum, hoping to go home with greater knowledge and strategies aimed at improving health research.
The Global Forum, based in Geneva, is holding sessions, roundtables, paper presentations, and issuing posters for policymakers, agencies, NGOs, pharmaceutical firms, research centers and health professionals until Nov. 2.