Senior Lecturer and founding Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Ghana, Dr. Elsie Effah Kaufmann, has bemoaned the lack of a dedicated source of funding for Biomedical Engineering research in the country.
According to her, the declining levels of local funding for biomedical research, along with inefficient allocation of funds by government and appropriate stakeholders, are jeopardizing innovation.
Research in biomedical engineering plays a central role in helping to advance the delivery of quality healthcare services in the country. However, its introduction into the country some sixteen years ago has been fraught with a lot of challenges such as limited funding and human resources.
These have contributed to the slow pace of development in this field across the country.
Speaking on the Citi Business Festival on-air series on the topic, ‘Medical Breakthroughs: Development of medical devices to enhance healthcare, Dr. Kauffmann, who doubles as the Quiz Mistress for the National Maths and Science Quiz, called for the introduction of policies to help accelerate the pace of basic research necessary to increase health outcomes and life expectancy.
“Our processes for licensing our technology ideas are not in place. We are now in the process of fine-tuning these. On some occasions, we have people approach us but our processes have been so cumbersome and long. We are now learning how to work with investors to fund projects like these. And investors get frustrated with us when the processes are long and they have to do all kinds of bureaucratic activities before they are even allowed to see what projects we have and the details of the project,” she said.
She also stated that though there is private philanthropy, it caters for a small piece of the pie as it is not able to fill the gap.
“We also need to get funding and allocated funds for research and development work so that, I don’t have to go and partner with somebody elsewhere before I can get funding for any of these projects. We should be able to see the value in these things we are doing. And the more we do them, the better we can get. It should not be seen as small projects we are doing,” she said.
Citing some of her inventions in tissue engineering and engineering design which have not seen the light of day, she further called for the need to nurture local investors to help push innovation and projects further to give us value.
“I think we need to find and nurture investors who maybe interested in projects like these. There are some investors that invest in other sectors. Biomedical engineering in Ghana is something new to us. It is not that old, so we don’t have a history of producing these solutions and putting them through the commercial process so that when an investor comes in, they are confident that we are capable of doing it. So we need investors who are able to take this kind of risks and help us to move forward,” she added.
The 2020 edition of the Citi Business Festival has a line-up of radio and TV discussions. It is featuring virtual business fora that would be live on Citi TV.
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