Applications of biotechnology in fostering health and well-being: directions for health and medical research in developing countries
Mumah, S. C. J.
Muoma, J. V. 0.
Mwaniki, J. W.
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Biotechnology and Globalization are the two critically important forces of the 21st century, which not only carry with them immense potential benefits in medicine, but also risks. Biotechnology has a considerable potential for improving human health of the developing countries now and in thefuture since information generated by advances in genetics and biotechnology has major benefits for the prevention, diagnosis and management of communicable and genetic diseases. While the benefits of technological advances in biotechnology may be obvious, regulatory principles and capacities at both National and International levels are inevitable to sajeguard the publlc health against potential risks and hazards resulting from research and its application. Such principles as the WTO and TRIPS on intellectual property rights and patenting and Cartagena protocols on biosafety become imminent. Some of the applications of biotechnology in medicine and agriculture include, among others, DNA diagnostics in the management and control of communicable diseases and identification of drug resistant organisms; control and management of genetic disorders; production of genetically modified agricultural products. Although these applications are likely to benefit comparatively more of the poor countries today than the richer countries, most biotechnology research is carried out in the developed world and is primarily market-driven. Most of Sub-Saharan countries currently have either rudimentary, fragmentary or not yet being able to evolve biotechnology capabilities. There is however, an urgent need to initiate a process whereby developing countries can gain the kind of expertise in biotechnology, which is required for application to their own particular health needs. This paper discusses the ethical issues, , potential risks intellectual property rights and applications of biotechnology infostering health and well-being. It also points out the future direction of biotechnology and its enormous potential for improving health care in resource poor developing countries of the Sub-Saharan Africa region