The last week was a busy week for all of us at the International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH) , London School of Hygine and Tropical Medicine
as we were busy preparing for a two days Research Retreat in Oxford (about 80 Km out of London).Even though I had been invited for this two days meeting I did not know what a retreat was so i didnt know what to expect .The retreat took place from 19-20th November both days inclusive.
At 8.00 am in the morning am sitting in the room with all these distinguished/ high level eye Researchers discussing what we need to do in terms of Research for developing countries and especially Africa where there little is being done. The whole morning we are brain storming ideas/research topics and planning how to do the Research.By afternnon the message is clear to me;if we want to do more Research in Africa we need to train much more local people to collaborate in these research areas.Even though most researchers are willing to do research in many african and other developing countries,they prefer to have a local person conduct research in their own country . Iam thinking,wow!! I will be collaborating so much research in Malawi.
Coming the next day;the obstacles are more obvious to me;Lack of money is definetely not one of the major ones;but lack of human capacity and space (Infrastucture )where to do the research.I am a bit more dissapointed as every little thing I am asked whether malawi has- the answer is no.As such most research ideas are shifted to Tanzania and Kenya where they have better infrastucture.
What have I gained/Learnt at this meeting?
If you have good Research ideas and ready to do the research(or collaborate it in Africa) ;most NGO's are willing to fund Eye Research.
Outcome of research meeting/Retreat
8 to 10 research topic areas identified and coordinators appointed. 2-3 year Proposals in the range of USD 300,000 -USD 2 million to be written and submitted soon to major granting bosies as dates for deadlines are nearing .Most of the reserach to be done in India and Bangladesh where there is both Human Resource and Infrastucture.
A few proposals for Kenya and Tanzania where there are people who can collaborate.
As for Malawi;I am already commited on another already funded project( Check my Research ) for the next four years ;The priority should be on identifying Malawian people to go for training in Health Research who can collaborate Research in future.Is there any candidate out there ready for training?
One thing I now know-finding money can but is not the major obstacle in Research; the major obstacle is lack of Skills/People to do the research.
For more information about what Research in Eye care is needed check Eye Research