Global healthcare company Glaxosmithkline (GSK) has urged Malawian doctors and healthcare professionals to re-double efforts in the fight Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Vice President for East African Cluster and African Government Affairs Dr Allan Pamba made the call from London during a new conference discussing GSK’s first call for research proposals into NCDs with Malawi journalists.
“NCDs are the next Tsunami to happen. Wonder why more people are dying from cancers and cardiovascular disease in Africa than ever before? Our call for proposals is an opportunity for Malawian scientists to advance solutions so that the country and rest of Saharan Africa is prepared to deal with the problem in the future,” he said.
Pamba said GSK has made available up to £4m to support successful proposals on NCDs from researchers in eight Sub-Saharan Africa countries, including Malawi. GSK first announced the call on November 14, 2014. The other countries invited to participate in the call are Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, The Gambia, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.
“We’re quite excited with what could potentially come back as proposals. What we want is for Malawi and other countries to be better prepared to deal with NCDs than they were when HIV/Aids struck some 15 years ago,” he said.
Pamba said the call for proposals could help answer some difficult questions on the prevalence of NCDs in Sub-Saharan Africa and provide an opportunity for the region’s scientists to provide relevant and home-grown solutions.
“For example why do some cancers present themselves earlier in African settings and not in the other populations? Why do some patients with hypertension not respond to certain medications? Those are some of the questions that we hope can be picked up by African scientists to advance the scientific knowledge of these diseases, in African contexts so that solutions are African-driven and become relevant in our environment,” he said.
Pamba said Malawi is earmarked as part of GSK’s strategic plan to grow and become a leading healthcare provider in Africa in the next five years. GSK has offices in Blantyre, where the Malawi operations are ran by Patrick Tsonga.
“Malawi is very relevant to our work and very much a part of our 5-year growth strategy. Apart from supplying vaccines and medicines in the country, we have collaborated on various projects with institutions such as Save the Children and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital,” he said.