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Biomedical research, a tool to address the health issues that affect African populations

21 Oct 2013

Traditionally, biomedical research endeavors in low to middle resources countries have focused on communicable diseases. However, data collected over the past 20 years by the World Health Organization (WHO) show a significant increase in the number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, cancer and pulmonary diseases). Within the coming years, WHO predicts significant decreases in communicable diseases while non-communicable diseases are expected to double in low and middle income countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The predicted increase in the non-communicable diseases population could be economically burdensome for the basic healthcare infrastructure of countries that lack resources to address this emerging disease burden. Biomedical research could stimulate development of healthcare and biomedical infrastructure. If this development is sustainable, it provides an opportunity to alleviate the burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases through diagnosis, prevention and treatment. In this paper, we discuss how research using biomedical technology, especially genomics, has produced data that enhances the understanding and treatment of both communicable and non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. We further discuss how scientific development can provide opportunities to pursue research areas responsive to the African populations. We limit our discussion to biomedical research in the areas of genomics due to its substantial impact on the scientific community in recent years however, we also recognize that targeted investments in other scientific disciplines could also foster further development in African countries.

Date: 
21 October 2013

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