Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor says health sciences are a top priority for Africa as the continent bears a massive disease burden.
Minister Pandor was speaking at the International Conference on Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE) in Cape Town.
The two-day conference was organised by iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator-Based Science in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics and The World Academy of Sciences.
The PIXE conference is a biennial event at which recent developments and future prospects in particle induced X-ray spectrometry are discussed.
The event brought together physicists and scientists from various fields of application, including biology and medicine, environmental and Earth sciences, cultural heritage and materials research.
The conference was expected to give South Africa the opportunity to showcase its expertise in ion-beam analysis and to explore possible collaborations on research using the new 3.0 MV Tandem Accelerator that is to be commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology in 2017.
Minister Pandor said Africa should invest more in research initiatives like the African Network for Drug and Diagnostic Innovation and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Biotechnology Network, which already has four hubs.
“We need to find durable solutions that hold promise for long-term change and development. This implies that we should intensify our human resource development efforts and ensure that Africa has the intellectual capacity to devote sustained attention to developing effective solutions,” she said.
The Minister urged African scientists and their counterparts in the rest of the world to work together to create new ideas to improve the quality of life of all Africans.
“All of you are aware that Africa is grappling with numerous challenges and that many in government, academic institutions and non-governmental organisations are pooling resources to devise effective responses to our most pressing challenges.
“The truth is that we will resolve problems faster if we use opportunities for continental and global partnerships effectively,” said Minister Pandor.