Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton is encouraging researchers to utilise the $50-million research fund to find solutions for challenges in public health.
Speaking at the launch of the Research for Wellness Fund, at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston on Thursday (Dec. 5), Dr. Tufton said the National Health Fund (NHF)-financed initiative is very crucial for wellness in the population.
“This is an important initiative. We have now dedicated funds and we have a research agenda that addresses the problem of public health. We encourage the research community, academia and other research entities and individuals to take advantage of this,” Tufton argued.
He pointed out that the programme, which has an initial $50 million, will be funded annually and is part of a collaborative approach to deepen partnerships to “overcome the challenges that we face in public health”.
The minister said that in the past, research projects had received financial support from the ministry, but due to the importance of the activity, they have moved, for the first time, to structure it in a “deliberate way to make it available to the research arena”.
Grants will be provided for research in priority areas – wellness in the workplace, schools, communities and among persons with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and risk factors (tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets, and air pollution).
“We want to send the signal that we are serious about research, serious about partnership, and we really want to find solutions to the challenges of the day,” he further explained.
The Research for Wellness Fund is open to research teams conducting work in Jamaica. The teams must be led by Principal Investigators who reside in Jamaica. Research must be short-term, inform policy and practice for health and wellness, and be in alignment with the settings mentioned above.
Interested applicants can visit the ministry’s website at www.moh.gov.jm for further information.
Meanwhile, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of the West Indies, Rainford Wilks, said establishment of the fund presents a “watershed” for the local research community, and “it is welcomed by all stakeholders”.
“We commit to taking full advantage and to use this opportunity to derive maximum benefit from the resources being provided. We will apply the highest level of thought leadership, factor the most important problems, seek to answer the most relevant questions and apply the most useful solutions,” the professor indicated.
For his part, Assistant Dean, Global Health Innovation, School of Medicine, and Chief Innovation Officer of the Health System, University of Alabama, Professor Rubin Pillay, said Jamaica has established a “first-world” programme, and that the Tufton has embarked on a “set up to succeed” initiative, similar to ‘Jamaica Moves’.