Health Minister Calls for More Applied Research

Jamaica News: Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says more applied research should be conducted at the national level to find solutions to health problems.

He argues that research is important in informing the process of developing solutions to the myriad and complex health conditions affecting the population.

The Minister was speaking at the University of Technology (UTech) inaugural Professorial Lecture by Professor of Computer Information Systems, Faculty of Engineering and Computing, Felix Akinladejo, on Thursday (April 11) at the institution’s Papine campus in St. Andrew.

“We don’t do enough applied research in the context of development. As a country, we are always searching for solutions to our problems (outside), and this is not always relevant, because some of the challenges we face here are challenges that require adaptation and context. We must focus on applied research… research which link to the challenges we face,” he urged.

Professor Akinladejo is also the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Research and Entrepreneurship. His research interest is in the application of computer technology in the fields of medicine, education and commerce.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (right),with Professor of Computer Information Systems, Faculty of Engineering and Computing, Felix Akinladejo, at the inaugural Professorial Lecture on Thursday (April 11), at the University of Technology (UTech), St. Andrew. Professor Akinladejo is also the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Research and Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Tufton said research work of this nature is critical in developing solutions to public health challenges, and contended that a holistic approach is needed in developing solutions to the growing public health threat by non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

“We can’t confront these challenges by confining our efforts to the practitioners directly involved in public health. The new approach to dealing with public health has to be a lot more holistic and collaborative,” he argued.

Dr. Tufton said with the increase of NCDs, such as diabetes and hypertension, affecting large segments of the population, all private and public health sectors must work together in providing a holistic approach to treating with these lifestyle diseases.

The Minister pointed out that the recently published Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey revealed that one in three Jamaicans (684,900) 15 years and older have hypertension, with four out of every 10 unaware of their status, and that 70.2 per cent are on treatment. Of those on treatment, only 31 per cent are controlled.

He added that one in eight Jamaicans (236,200) is living with diabetes, with four out of every 10 also unaware of their status.

The Minister said the numbers show stroke as the second leading cause of preventable deaths and disability in Jamaica, with uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol as major underlying causes.

Meanwhile, President of UTech, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, congratulated Professor Akinladejo on his recent appointment, which took effect in July 2018.

“I welcome the appointment of Professor Akinladejo to the Professorship. He joins a distinguished company in the growing team of full professors at the University. His promotion is testament to his body of extensive research work and his distinguished teaching career in computer science and engineering, which began in his native Nigeria,” he said.

Noting that he has been promoted through various academic ranks leading to professorship over a 25-year span, Professor Vasciannie said the Professor has made significant contribution to academic life and service at the University.

Professor Akinladejo joined UTech in 1995 as a lecturer in the School of Computing and Information Technology (formerly the Computer Department).

His current research has resulted in a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, United States of America and UTech to establish a multi-disciplinary team to investigate rehabilitation after cerebrovascular disease (CVD).

This refers to a group of conditions that can lead to a cerebrovascular event, such as a stroke. These events affect the blood vessels and blood supply to the brain.

The agreement has led to a programme that is currently providing UTech engineering students with training in the basic elements of robotics, with a focus on rehabilitative robotics in the Jamaican context.

Source: JIS News

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