Senior members of the Rwanda Bio-medical Centre (RBC) have appealed to lawmakers for a research grant policy which they said will play a significant role in promoting research in the country.
They were appearing before the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions, yesterday.
In her presentation; the Director of RBC’s Medical Research Centre; Clarisse Musanabaganwa said a research grant policy in the health sector would go a long way in motivating researchers and significantly contributing to staff retention.
“A particular health sector research grant policy will enable Rwanda Biomedical Centre to achieve some of its goals to promote research and development by putting in place resource mobilisation strategies for medical research funding in the country. Having this enabling mechanism will also improve staff retention with sufficient pool of multidisciplinary scientific expertise,” she said.
One of the challenges facing research work in the country is lack of a strong regulatory system, a universal centre-piece for quality and effective research in terms of compliance with scientific norms, ethics and international best research practices, according to Musanabaganwa.
“There is a regulatory system for research in Rwanda, yet it still needs strong improvement to meet adequate international standards. This leads to a challenging scenario for researchers when it comes to applying for approvals to conduct research activities. The process is still hard and ambiguous with no clear course of application, well-defined requirements, and advisory guidance and so forth,” she said.
Senator Narcisse Musabeyezu advised RBC to work closely with universities, where students can be given ideas on what topics to pursue instead of them going to other countries for research.
“Before we find specialists, I think that RBC can advise students doing their dissertation or projects on the best topics to research about and later RBC can research on the same even further at a later stage. If this is done well, it can be of double benefit because that way, the students are learning something but RBC is also gaining research information,” he said.
The President of the Commission; Senator Gallican Niyongana congratulated RBC for the efforts that they had put in pursuing research, which he acknowledged is not their core responsibility.
“It’s great that yours is not just work on paper but is backed by evidence of what you have done so far. You are doing a lot of work but it’s not known to many people out here. The challenges like funding that you referred to are probably still there because some people don’t know how much work you are doing. You should endeavor to disseminate information more so that people are in the know,” he advised.
So far, RBC has managed to conduct 147 Maternal and Child Health research projects, 41 in HIV and other blood borne diseases, 17 in malaria and other parasitic diseases, 14 in Tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases, and three in mental health among others.