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Unima for collaboration with technocrats 

University of Malawi (Unima) has said trained local researchers and technocrats have to work together if the goal of developing this country is to be achieved.

Unima Pro-Vice Chancellor, Al Mtenje, made the remarks in Lilongwe on Tuesday during the official opening of Thanzi la Onse (Health for All) Annual International Workshop and the official launch of Health and Policy Unit (Hepu) of the College of Medicine.

This is the first academic unit within Unima, dedicated for think-tank services for public policy in the health sector.

“It is common knowledge that, while substantial capacity exists in our local colleges, more often than not, the government ministries, departments and agencies as well as partners seek research capacity elsewhere. As a result, services of highly-trained researchers are substantially under-utilised, hence the dearth of high quality policy-relevant research,” he said.

He said the establishment of Hepu would ensure that research programmes and delivery mechanisms are in line with the policy needs of the government.

Hepu Director, Joseph Mfutso Bengo, said the unit would help Malawi a lot.

“This unit will work with the government in policy formulation. It is very important as it will help policy-makers,” Bengo said.

Director of Planning and Policy Development in the Ministry of Health, Kate Langwe, said the unit would improve collaboration between the government and other stakeholders.

“Malawi needs to do a lot of research work to establish evidence and work on the evidence generated. This initiative will help the Ministry of Health in decision-making processes. International consultants have their priorities while the government also has its priorities. With the establishment of this unit, we will be able to work better,” Langwe said.

Mark Sculpher, Principal Investigator of the Thanzi la Onse, emphasised the need to base decisions on research.

“This initiative will help in [the making of] better decisions regarding health care resources. Policy-makers will be making decisions which are based on evidence,” he said.