MANHICA, MOZAMBIQUE, Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero has praised the Manica Health Research Centre (CISM) in southern Mozambique as a centre of hope, which saves lives.

Zapatero is one of the keynote speakers at Mozefo 2017, a discussion forum which will run from Wednesday to Friday in Maputo, organized by the Soico media company, owners of the STV television station and the independent daily newspaper, O Pais.

The CISM has an international reputation for high quality medical research, particularly in the fight against malaria. It is also the flagship for Spanish co-operation with Mozambique, dating back to bilateral agreements signed in 1995. Spanish assistance for the centre has been running at about a million US dollars a year.

After a tour of the premises, and of the adjacent Manhica district hospital, Zapatero declared that the Spanish aid should continue, since nothing is more important than health.

Research, social inclusion and education are pillars of the nation,” declared Zapatero as he concluded his visit. “Scientific research is key to reducing the burden of illness, and there would be no progress without social inclusion.”

The CISM is now managed by the Manhica Foundation which has the status of a private body, although it was set up in 2008 by the Mozambican and Spanish governments. This legal structure, the CISM argues, will ensure its long-term sustainability.

The key area for CISM’s research has been malaria, notably in developing a candidate vaccine (known as RTS,S) against the malaria parasite. The centre’s director, Eusebio Macete, told the media that, after 12 years of research, the candidate vaccine has received the go-ahead for trials which will be held in Malawi, Kenya and Uganda.

Macete said the World Health Organisation (WHO) is now moving away from simply controlling malaria to a strategy of eliminating the disease. We are taking one area and seeing if we can completely eradicate malaria from it,” he added.