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South-South Science and the MDGs
Jamais Cascio, 7 Feb 05

The Millennium Development Goals are, at their root, a checklist of what it will take to meet the basic living needs of every person on the planet. They call for clean water, literacy, elimination of starvation, and the like -- simple, readily achievable goals. If the MDG project leaders had their way, it wouldn't cost the developed world much to see these goals implemented, around fifty cents for every $100 of developed world income.

In the meantime, however, developing nations are looking for ways to achieve these goals on their own. Science is key to this, especially science done cooperatively between developing nations (aka "South-South science"). Medical biotechnology, in particular, may prove to be a key to the success of the MDGs.

We've mentioned the leapfrog potential of biotechnology in the past; now reports that the Health Minister of Nigeria, Eyitayo Lambo, is calling for increased developing world collaboration on medical biotech research:

Lambo said a recent survey showing a significant level of health biotechnology activities being carried out in developing countries, proved that "we are not only talking theoretically".

"This survey has put hope into countries like ours that we can find our own way into the promised land."

The survey had also revealed that an increasing number of South-South collaborations were complementing the more traditional North-South cooperation. "If we can increase the tempo of some of these interventions, that will enable us to increase the speed with which we achieve the MDGs," the minister said.

But that could only happen if steps were taken to ensure that African governments gave prominence to science, that science and technology policies were developed, and that science and technology were made political priorities.

(Lambo's presentation is available here as a Powerpoint file.)

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