Freedom of speech and public interest, not allegiance, should underpin science advisement to government

Singh, Jerome Amir ; Habib, Adam ; Jansen, Jonathan (2020)

CITATION: Singh, J. A., Habib, A. & Jansen, J. 2020. Freedom of speech and public interest, not allegiance, should underpin science advisement to government. South African Medical Journal, 110(7), doi:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i7.14958.

The original publication is available at http://www.samj.org.za

Article

South Africa (SA) is Africa’s science heavyweight, leading the continent in scientific output, and ranks in the top 40 globally in research productivity.[1-3] Not surprisingly, SA’s scientific and academic communities have become deeply involved in the country’s response to COVID-19. Such involvement has included, among others, clinical trials for drug therapies and vaccines, data analysis tracking the evolution of the pandemic, provision of critical advisory support to government policymaking on COVID-19 and on the trade-offs between strategies to manage the pandemic and the economic consequences thereof. This inevitably has led to the participation of many of the country’s academics in ministerial advisory committees. The most significant of these committees has been Zweli Mkhize’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19, which involves leading biomedical scientists.[4] Such participation exemplifies the notion of science solidarity and participatory democracy.

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