Africa as a whole and Zimbabwe in particular  has been urged to develop skills to close the research and development gap in African health care systems.

Speaking during a two-day workshop with the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher and tertiary education in Nyanga, the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF) chief executive officer Mr Fredrick Mandizvidza said Africa continues to lag behind due to its lack of investment in health care systems.

Mr Mandizvidza said only one percent of drugs developed from 1975 to 2004 treat diseases that are prevalent in Africa that include HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and cholera.

The chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher and tertiary education, science and technology development Dr Peter Mataruse said diseases like ebola wreaked havoc in Africa because the continent is not developing medicines that are customised to the African continent.

Acting principal director for academic affairs in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Mr Johnsai Dewah said as a ministry they continue to invest in research and development.

Some Zimbabweans are now medical tourists because of insufficient funding for research and development locally.

This is the situation that ZIMDEF is working flat out to overturn via the STEM programme.