PRESIDENT LUNGU OPENS THE EIGTH GLOBAL FORUM FOR THE EUROPEAN AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES CLINICAL TRIALS PARTNERSHIP (EDCTP) CONFERENCE

IT IS WITH GREAT PLEASURE THAT I GRACE THIS VERY IMPORTANT OCCASION, THE 8THGLOBAL FORUM FOR THE EUROPEAN AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES CLINICAL TRIALS PARTNERSHIP (EDCTP) BEING HELD HERE IN ZAMBIA FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME.

I WARMLY WELCOME YOU ALL, AND EXTEND OUR ZAMBIAN HOSPITALITY TO YOU ALL. PLEASE FEEL AT HOME.

LET ME ALSO EXTEND MY CONGRATULATIONS TO THE MINISTER OF HEALTH, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE EUROPEAN AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES CLINICAL TRIALS PARTNERSHIP AND THEIR TEAMS FOR BRINGING US ALL TOGETHER FOR THIS IMPORTANT EVENT.

I AM AWARE THAT THE EUROPEAN AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES CLINICAL TRIALS PARTNERSHIP FORUM IS ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT CONFERENCES ON HIV/AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS, MALARIA AND OTHER NEGLECTED INFECTIOUS DISEASES PREVALENT IN THE AFRICAN CONTINENT.

THIS FORUM PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR DIALOGUE AND EXCHANGE OF GREAT IDEAS BETWEEN AND AMONG SCIENTISTS, POLICY MAKERS, FUNDERS, DONORS AND GLOBAL HEALTH ADVOCATES IN THE FIELDS OF CLINICAL DEVELOPMENT FOR EFFECTIVE AND ACCESSIBLE INTERVENTIONS AGAINST POVERTY-RELATED DISEASES.

MY GOVERNMENT’S VISION RESONATES WITH THE IDEAS OF THE FORUM BECAUSE WE ARE PURSUING A VIGOROUS INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA, WHOSE CORNERSTONE IS “NOT TO LEAVE ANYONE BEHIND”.

I HOPE THAT THIS FORUM WILL ENGAGE OPENLY AND CANDIDLY IN DIALOGUE THAT WILL RESULT IN A TRANSFORMATIVE HEALTH RESEARCH AGENDA.

TRANSFORMATION WILL MEAN THAT WE LOOK NOT ONLY AT IMPROVING THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS IN HEALTH SERVICE DELIVERY, BUT ALSO TO INTERROGATE THE OBJECTIVES WE HAVE SET.

MY CHALLENGE TO THIS FORUM IS THAT, IT SHOULD BE THE SPEAR-POINT FOR RESEARCH AIMED AT BRINGING BENEFICIAL DISRUPTIVE CHANGE IN TACKLING POVERTY AND DISEASE IN AFRICA.

WHILST I AM DELIGHTED TO OFFICIALLY OPEN AND HOST THIS FORUM, I AM EQUALLY HEAVILY BURDENED BY THE REASONS THAT CREATES THE NEED FOR US TO MEET: AFRICA’S BURDEN OF POVERTY AND NEGLECTED DISEASES.

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN;

YOU COULD NOT HAVE CHOSEN AN OPPORTUNE THEME THAN “DEFEATING POVERTY-RELATED AND NEGLECTED DISEASES IN AFRICA: HARNESSING RESEARCH FOR EVIDENCE INFORMED POLICIES”.

THIS THEME IS CLOSE TO MY HEART BECAUSE NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES PLACE AN UNACCEPTABLE BURDEN ON THE HEALTH OF THE POOREST PEOPLE IN ZAMBIA, PARTICULARLY IN OUR RURAL AREAS. WE ARE FACED WITH UNTOLD SUFFERINGS FROM DISEASES SUCH AS BILHARZIA AND RIVER BLINDNESS AMONG OTHERS.

A WELL RESPECTED FORUM, SUCH AS THIS ONE INSTILS CONFIDENCE IN US THAT WE ARE CAPABLE OF DEVISING OUR OWN SOLUTIONS WHICH WOULD ALSO ENABLE US TO MITIGATE POVERTY AND THE BURDEN OF DISEASE.

IN LINE WITH OUR NATIONAL HEALTH RESEARCH ACT AND POLICY, OUR GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO THE MEANINGFUL DEVELOPMENT OF HEALTH RESEARCH.

ZAMBIA SEEKS EQUITY OF ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTH CARE SERVICES AS CLOSE TO THE FAMILY AS POSSIBLE.

IN ORDER TO IMPROVE SERVICE DELIVERY, GOVERNMENT HAS ENABLED AN UNPRECEDENTED INCREASE IN HEALTH RESEARCH BY BOTH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.

HOWEVER, THERE IS STILL NEED TO SCALE UP THE CONTRIBUTION OF THIS PHENOMENON, TO LOCAL POLICY DECISIONS AND PROGRAMMES. THIS, THEREFORE CALLS FOR ALL STAKEHOLDERS TO BE PART OF A CONCERTED EFFORT TO BUILD EVIDENCE BASED POLICY AND DECISION-MAKING.

THIS CAN ONLY HAPPEN IF THERE ARE AMBITIOUS, WORLD CLASS PROGRAMMES SUCH AS THE EUROPEAN AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES CLINICAL TRIALS PARTNERSHIP. THIS WILL TRANSLATE INTO ZAMBIA WHICH IS PART OF THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY TO BECOME A LEADER IN RELEVANT, POLICY FRIENDLY SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE IN HEALTH RESEARCH.

IN PURSUING THIS GOAL, I MUST UNDERSCORE THE NEED TO ENSURE THAT ALL ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN THE TREATMENT OF ZAMBIANS AS SUBJECTS OF HEALTH RESEARCH ARE STRICTLY FOLLOWED.

AS A NATION, WE ARE PROUD TO BE A PREFERRED DESTINATION FOR HEALTH RESEARCH BECAUSE OF OUR STRATEGIC GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION, GOOD INFRASTRUCTURE, STABLE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT AND A GOOD TRACK RECORD IN HEALTH CARE.

WE ARE COMMITTED TO FOSTERING HEALTH RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AS THIS WILL IMPROVE THE QUALITY AND QUANTITY OF ZAMBIAN DRIVEN RESEARCH EXPONENTIALLY.

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN;

I AM PARTICULARLY GLAD THAT THE EUROPEAN AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES CLINICAL TRIALS PARTNERSHIP FUNDING MODALITY PROVIDES COUNTRIES WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN DEFINING THE RESEARCH AGENDA TO BE FUNDED.

THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW FUNDING AGENCIES CAN IMPROVE THE COORDINATION AND HARMONISATION OF HEALTH RESEARCH INVESTMENTS.

THIS IS ALSO IN CONFORMITY WITH THE 2005 PARIS DECLARATION ON AID EFFECTIVENESS AND THE 2008 ACCRA AGENDA FOR ACTION. WITH THIS, COUNTRY LEVEL CAPACITY AND CONFIDENCE IN RESEARCH IS EXPECTED TO IMPROVE.

I WISH TO CONCLUDE BY REITERATING MY CALL FOR THIS FORUM TO ENGAGE IN TRANSFORMATIVE DIALOGUE THAT WOULD RESULT IN HISTORICAL DECISIONS TO GUIDE NOT ONLY PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES BUT ALSO DEFINE HOW WE ALL DO BUSINESS.

POSTERITY WILL JUDGE US IF WE INVEST ONLY FOR OURSELVES AND NOT FOR OUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN.

IT IS NOW MY SINGULAR HONOUR AND PRIVILEGE TO OFFICIALLY DECLARE THIS MEETING OPEN.

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS

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