Read the full story, published by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice.
When Agnes Binagwaho, minister of health of the Republic of Rwanda, spoke to members of the Dartmouth community recently, she began her talk, “Delivery Science and Capacity Building for Health: The Experience of Rwanda,” by reminding the audience that “we are all part of one community, the global health community,” and asked them not to forget that “behind every statistic there is a human being.”
The responsibility of researchers to ensure that their research is used to improve people’s lives was a central theme of Binagwaho’s Aug. 24 talk, sponsored by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. To illustrate her point, the Honorable Minister, known affectionately as “Dr. Agnes,” cited a recent op-ed in The New York Times, “Yes, We Were Warned About Ebola,” which was written by members of the team currently drafting Liberia’s Ebola recovery plan.
In the article, the members of the team, who included Cameron Nutt ’11, stated they had been stunned to find in the course of their research that German virologists had analyzed frozen blood samples taken in 1978 and 79 from 433 Liberian citizens and found that 26 (or 6 percent) had antibodies to the Ebola virus. In 1982, the German researchers published a paper on their findings in which they warned that medical personnel in Liberian health centers should be aware of the possibility that they might come across active cases in the future. Yet no local (West African) researchers were involved, hence no capacity building, Binagwaho noted.
"The first lesson is to build on your history, and when you do things, transfer skills and make sure that the research you do builds capacity and saves lives,” said Binagwaho, an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine.