BOSTON, USA – At the recent healthcare conference held at the Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health over the weekend, one of Africa’s foremost infectious disease experts, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan has urged African leaders to “stop begging for technology, but support African scientists and innovators for the advancement of science research and production of biomedical products in Africa by Africans.”
“The solution for Africa’s problem lies in the hands of Africans,” Dr. Nyan stressed, adding that, “instead of begging for technology from the west to produce vaccines and diagnostics kits, African governments should invest in diaspora and home-grown African scientists and innovators that have the expertise to produce same on the African continent.”
The healthcare forum was an inaugural conference organized by the African Public Health Students Association of the T. H. Chan School of Public Health of the Harvard University in Boston and brought together, faculty, students, science researchers, policy makers, and innovators from Africa and the diaspora.
Speaking during the panel discussion on the “Implications for Malaria Eradication in sub-Saharan Africa,” Dr. Nyan said that, “Africa has some of the world’s brightest scientists and innovators who are capable of producing diagnostic kits, vaccines, and life-saving drugs, but the lack of research funding and support from African national governments make it difficult for African researchers to unfold their maximum potential.”
Contributing to the panel discussion, Tanzanian malaria researcher, Dr. Ally Olotu, noted that there is intensive work going on in Africa in malaria vaccine research, but that requires an ecosystem that will also involve government support to researchers.
Speaking further, Dr. Nyan, the NIH-trained biomedical scientist, “urged African governments to increase their country’s GDP for healthcare so as to strengthen research in science and medicine, and to avoid African researchers’ sole dependency on foreign grants to do research.”
Responding to concerns raised regarding government support, the former Vice President of Uganda, H.E. Dr. Specioza Wandira-Kazibwe, emphasized that African researchers should package their funding-request properly for the understanding of policy makers.
Malaria infections is one of the most common parasitic diseases affecting humans. According the 2022 WHO Report, there were about 247 million cases of malaria in 2021 and the estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 619 000 in 2021. The WHO African Region bore a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden with 95% of malaria cases and 96% of malaria deaths.
The infectious disease expert, Dr. Nyan, is Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of Shufflex Biomed, his start-up company that is developing rapid diagnostic tests for malaria and many other infections.
He is globally acclaimed for inventing the Rapid Multiplex Isothermal Real-Time Amplification Test (the NYAN-TEST) that detects and simultaneously differentiates 3 to 7 infections (including Malaria, Ebola, COVID-19, Typhoid, Yellow fever, HIV, Hepatitis viruses, Lassa, and several others) in less than an hour. This groundbreaking technology has been granted three US Patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
In an effort of contributing to science education in Africa, the German-trained medical doctor from the Humboldt University of Berlin, Dr. Nyan taught and lectured for about five months at various medical and academic institutions as an unpaid-volunteer visiting professor in Liberia and Ghana in 2022.
He taught and lectured at the Monrovia College, Harbel College, AME University, United Methodist University, and the Harbel Firestone Duside Hospital in Liberia, among others. In Ghana, he presented at the Noguchi Memorial Medical Research Institute of the University of Ghana – Legon.