Previous Fora / 2003

From the back of beyond to the heart of science

Serge Sawadogo (Burkina Faso)

"From the back of beyond to the heart of science"


As humans we are relative newcomers to the planet: strangers in a strange land. We are not as adaptive to hostile environments as are microbes: Consider SARS and the worldwide panic it created. Our response would have been weaker had we not collaborated. Global collaboration is essential for our survival.

Developing countries have much to contribute to research collaboration: research subjects, disease specimens, tissues, microbes, plants and knowledge of their use, population. If these resources are not exploited to create knowledge for the benefit of science and humanity, they will be wasted. We cannot allow this to happen. This knowledge will solve problems not only of Africa but of the world.

There remains a cruel lack of opportunity to develop our human potential in Africa. In Burkina Faso few have access to basic education; far fewer have access to the single university. I'm doing research in malaria, a disease that ravages my country. There are no facilities in Burkina Faso to study immunogenetics so I conduct my research in France. Like myself, other young people are hungry to learn and passionate to become equipped to solve our own problems. We are discouraged by lack of educational and technical opportunities. Until we develop more scientists and doctors, we cannot create our own future but must rely on other to do it for us.

For example, indigenous plants are used to treat malaria. We should not have to rely on scientists from Europe and America to take these plants from Burkina Faso to study the active ingredients in their labs. We should not have to wait for others to develop new comprehension about the disease and its treatment. We should not have to depend on others to identify more effective responses.

WAYS create a new perspective of global response by the scientific community to resolve problems. WAYS promotes participation of developing countries as equal partners in creating a new scientific reality of collaboration. How much more quickly will disease be eradicated by utilizing the talent, potential, and passion of scientists of developing countries? We are eager to take part in this community which represents an untapped resource in solving our problems. The situation is urgent: during my short speech, twenty people have died of AIDS and twenty have died from malaria and the great majority were Africans.


World Science Day, WSF, Budapest
Monday 10 November 2003
(Mr. Serge Sawadogo)