‘Who has forgotten Africa?’ African scientists struggle to remain in continent – CNN

Written by Staff Writer “My question to these scientists is, who has forgotten Africa? Because Africa remains ‘Africa,’ and the extent of its problems are perhaps more tremendous in the consciousness of Europe and…

'Who has forgotten Africa?' African scientists struggle to remain in continent - CNN

Written by Staff Writer

“My question to these scientists is, who has forgotten Africa? Because Africa remains ‘Africa,’ and the extent of its problems are perhaps more tremendous in the consciousness of Europe and America than they are to me and my colleagues,” said author and scholar Tavis Smiley in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Stephanie Elam.

“You talk about brain drain and I say science have you forgotten Africa?”

Top experts in South Africa and Botswana who are playing a pivotal role in studying a potentially life-saving drug to help malaria sufferers in Africa are set to depart the continent at the end of this year. The stars of the study are set to leave the continent to other parts of the world.

Why have they chosen to leave? Officials claim they’re leaving for “personal and family reasons,” while critics suggest they are quitting out of frustration with Africa’s lack of development.

What’s clear is that they’re not the only Africans seeking careers abroad. Nearly one in four young people ages 15 to 29 is a first generation immigrant, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center.

This year, an extraordinary team of Nigerians led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wole Soyinka will return to their country for a world tour when their research on asbestos poisoning in their soil will be unveiled at the World Health Organization conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The research will be pivotal in determining whether exposure to asbestos caused the death of more than 250 Nigerians in the early 1900s and will be critical in developing solutions to prevent industrial exposures.

The World Health Organization has designated Nigeria as one of the world’s asbestos-affected countries because it is highly resistant to steps to limit exposure. Nigeria is being kept alive by regular donation of giant oxygen tanks, known as NGOLs (Nigeria Olympic Lethal Medicine atlas), which serve as a back-up for hospitals.

Despite critical needs in poverty-stricken Nigeria, there has been no progress in combating cancer in the country, which is one of the hardest hit in the world, according to a report by the World Health Organization.

The towering political scientist Charles Taylor Leeson is also set to travel to Geneva for the meeting to present a report in support of phosphateic acid. Leeson will discuss what he says has been the “charade of a male condom” in Africa where the practice is considered a luxury only for women.

Read more from CNN: Who does Africa believe?

How the world moves on

Despite their success in their research in Switzerland, and the importance of their findings to Africa, the experts have no intention of relocating back to Africa, say their colleagues and counterparts in Cameroon, Kenya and Ghana.

There is not enough support for the next generation in African universities, according to researchers. Dr Nii Ibusingbe from the University of Coventry said: “Right now the problem is that the institutions of higher learning are relatively poorly supported by the government and the communities. Not only are they suffering from lack of institutional resources, but they have a limited choice of assignments as well.”

The scientists have been enormously successful in their works and, in some cases, their families have benefitted from the priceless research their work has brought to the forefront of scientific discourse.

However, according to Merah, there is no “exit strategy” for the pair.

The choice to leave Africa is not taken lightly, according to Merah. “A lot of colleagues would not let them go,” said James Ongom, lecturer at the University of Ghana and one of the key figures in the research on arsenic and its relationship to river blindness in west Africa. “The thing is that they’re seasoned researchers. There is no turmoil there.

“However, the issue of supporting training is quite difficult in countries like ours.”

The two scientists are currently working with various organizations in South Africa, one of them the Institute of Policy Research in Johannesburg, but will no longer be based in Africa when they return home at the end of this year.

“I never considered moving to America,” said Merah. “It was only once I’d worked in other countries for several years that I came to recognize that Africa will be the place where most of the rest of the world’s problems are solved.”

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