The 15th edition of the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting (GCAM) aimed at accelerating the translation of innovation to address the world’s most urgent global health and development problems has opened in Addis Ababa.

Over the next four days, about 1000, scientists from countries including Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, Brazil, India, Canada would share their work, learn about cutting-edge advances in the field, and build collaborations with other investigators.

The GCAM, which was being held in Africa for the first time in 10 years, is co-hosted by the African Union, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, Grand Challenges Canada, the United States Agency for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Speaking at the opening, Professor Felix Dapare Dakora, the President of African Academy of Sciences called African leaders especially those in West Africa to invest more in training the youth to champion science innovations to address health and social economic challenges.

In addition, he proposed that governments should set up dedicated funds towards building ecosystems to facilitate more research work as well as translating innovation into practical actions.

Mr Dakora urged scientists not to only end at publishing scientific research, but to make the effort of break it down to the understanding of political leaders to enable them understand and see the need to provide funding for their work.

Mr Trevor Mundel, the President Global Health, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said GCAM had awarded 15 grants in eight countries to undertake research.

He noted that the grants had made great strides in improving maternal health, increased the use of contraceptives, tuberculosis and Human Immune Virus and Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Mr Amir Aman, the Ethiopian Minister of Health said, “We need researchers, innovation and development…driven by community priorities.”

Dr Jewelna Akorli, a Scientist at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Ghana and Ms Harriet Kinga, a Research Scientist at the African Regional Postgraduate Programme in Insect Science, at the University of Ghana would be presenting preliminary results on the use of mosquito breeding water parameters as markers for vector surveillance.

The study seeks to investigate the potential use of abiotic and biotic parameters associated with mosquitos breeding habitats as field predators of vector.

It would also feature a study dubbed: “Smart Sclera Screening of Jaundiced newborns in Ghana,” jointly conducted by researchers including Nana Okai Barko, from the Greater Accra Regional Hospital and Ms Christabel Enweronu-Laryea, a Scientist from the University Of Ghana School Of Medicine and Dentistry and the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

The study had developed a smartphone app known as the Sclera-Conjunctive Bilirubin app, use to screen jaundice.

It is an opportunity to put science and innovation at the top of domestic agendas and secure the political and financial commitments needed to give everyone a chance at a healthy, productive life.

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