OPENING SPEECH BY THE NIMR DIRECTOR GENERAL, Dr. MWELECELE MALECELA DURING THE 30TH ANNUAL JOINT SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH, ARUSHA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, ARUSHA, TANZANIA, 4TH OCTOBER 2016
Guest of Honour Your Excellency Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan,
Hon Hamis Kigwangala Deputy Minister of Health Community Development Gender Women Children and the Elderly,
Prof. Samuel Massele, Former NIMR Council Chairman
Former NIMR Director Generals
Directors, Ministry of Health & Social Welfare,
Directors, National Institute for Medical Research,
Our distinguished Keynote speakers
Our distinguished awardees
Our distinguished sponsors
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen
Let me thank God Almighty for giving us the grace of this new day and the bringing us together for this very important meeting. I am delighted to welcome you all to Julius Nyerere Convention Centre for the Annual Joint Scientific Conference of the National Institute for Medical Research. This years event marks the 30th time that researchers and policy makers meet to debate and dialogue on issues that matter; and finally agree on what will be the next steps toward ensuring that the goal of improving health of our population in the context of the sustainable Development Goals are achieved with a great measure of success. As host let me welcome you to Tanzania for those from outside Tanzania let me welcome you to Dar and here to the convention Centre.
Ladies and gentlemen
Let me start by congratulating Your Excellency on your appointment as Vice President and it gives me great pride and joy to recognize the fact that you are the first female vice president of our country. You are an inspiration to many of us. Congratulations.
Secondly we thank you for availing time off your busy schedule to be with us today it is a privilege and an honour for you to open our first meeting since the fifth phase government begun but also our 30th meeting. Your Excellency when one reaches 30 years it is considered a time of maturity, we believe that this conference has indeed matured and moved form strength to strength with international visibility. The 200 plus abstracts the 300 plus attendance and the 17 countries are testament to the fact that we have grown and we have indeed matured. With maturity comes learning and understanding about what work s and what doesn't and the fact that sometimes your greatest successes lie in your greatest setbacks. We have learned we have grown.
I would like to join my colleagues to mourn our fellow researchers who died in the course of duty. It is crucial that people recognize the work of researchers and the role of research it is sad and unacceptable that people should have to work in such circumstances.
The main goal of this year’s conference is to create a platform for more focused discussions and deliberations on innovative research to address the sustainable development goals. The global community has devoted itself to attaining 17 goals which if reached will result in a more developed and more balanced world. It is clear that health, which is goal number 3, plays a central part to addressing these goals.
Health has a link to each and every one of the 17 goals and rightfully so because health is the existence of human kind. Right from no poverty which includes addressing health rights of the poor, to reduce hunger which focuses on malnutrition to healthy cities and environments health has an integral part in each one. It is for this reason then that research linked to the SDGS through a health lens is important. The beauty of this approach however forces us health researchers to recognize that it is only through multidisciplinary multifaceted approach that our research will have a true impact on development. It reminds us again and again that while we always take a siloed approach health cannot be viewed in isolation. Sustainable development will happen only when health is taken as a part of the whole.
The number of topics and themes that are being discussed here today are testament to that fact. Apart form our major thematic sessions we will have two symposia one on Safe water and one on taking innovations to scale and we will have two very significant roundtable sessions one on women in science and the other on Alternative mechanisms for funding health research. I would urge you to attend some of these key events as well your own areas of choice.
Ladies and gentlemen
At this conference, we also want to share with, and get feedback from you regarding what NIMR and other health researchers in and outside the country have been doing since the last conference. But more so, the conference is designed to keep you informed of the most important developments in the field and to give you the opportunity to share emerging challenges and best practices with your colleagues, all of which are geared towards improving health and wellbeing of our people. We have made this conference as diverse as possible so that the levels of engagement are broad and will result in multidisciplinary networks.
Tanzania is a force to reckon with at Regional and Global level in the health sciences. We must however use our comparative advantages wisely and while competition may be healthy and spur innovation in our cases where resources are limited it might be detrimental. Let us ensure that we have strategic cross-institutional networks that do not duplicate but complement.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen; today we will be honouring five outstanding Tanzanians who have done amazing work in the field of health research. We will be honouring one for her distinguished contribution to health research. She will be recognized for her political will and creating an environment to make health research possible. The other awardees will include those for best national health researcher, prize for best research innovation, an award for the prolific publication and finally the lifetime achievement award. I would like to recognize the hard and critical work of the awards committee. It is their rigour and commitment to merit that has allowed us to get our winners today. Your Excellency there is a Swahili saying Mcheza Kwao hutuzwa. He who dances at home is rewarded. We at NIMR have built a culture of rewarding our own throughout the country and these are our fourth awards. The awards serve as appreciation to those who have worked hard and quietly to improve the health of Tanzanians through research but also as an inspiration to others who dare to tread in our paths.
Let me to thank you, Honourable Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender Women, Children and the Elderly, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla and your team at the Ministry for your inspiring leadership, for your vision in identifying important health needs for the people of this country, your commitment to tackling them with creative, bold initiatives and staying with them until the solutions are institutionalized.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many organizations that have supported this and many similar conferences. I turn to our sponsors with a deep sense of gratitude. This meeting could not have happened without you. If ever there was a crowd-sourced meeting this is one of them. Your eagerness to give both financially and in kind has really shown the goodwill you have towards science and research and we really appreciate your support.
I would like to thank my wonderful secretariat under the leadership of Leonard Mboera. Each of them really worked endlessly to make this meeting a success.
At the end of our speeches we like to say please find some time to enjoy Dar-es-salaam and then we cram a very heavy program down your throats. Still I do hope you will find time after the meeting to visit parts of our beautiful country. And if you do not get time this time please come back and visit.
Thank you very much Karibuni na Ahsanten.