New Scientific Society in Nicaragua

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Science  02 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5778, pp. 1309b
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5778.1309b

In March of this year, Science published an Editorial entitled “Fighting tropical diseases” (J. D. Sachs and P. J. Hotez, 17 Mar., p. 1521) discussing science-based approaches to address the UN Millennium Development Goals. Additionally, in the past few months, Science has reported on recent efforts to improve Africa's capacity in science, including the creation of science academies in various African countries. Because the motivation behind all these efforts is, in part, the urgent need to address extreme poverty, other low-income countries such as Nicaragua could benefit from similar initiatives.

Within Latin America, Nicaragua is a latecomer in promoting the use of science as a tool for economic development. Although scientific councils were created in most countries in the 1960s, in Nicaragua, it wasn't until 2002 that such a council (CONICYT) was first established. Even so, the lack of funding and working ties with the scientific community has rendered the council ineffective.

Despite these difficulties, Nicaragua is currently experiencing a rapid period of scientific growth, particularly in the health sciences and biotechnology research. A recent report (1) by various members of the InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS) praises the scientific achievements of Universidad Centroamericana and other Nicaraguan universities, but stresses that national planning and coordination are necessary for a stronger scientific enterprise.

In light of these recommendations and in an effort to build on this momentum, leading scientists have organized the Nicaraguan Society for Science as an essential step toward the creation of a Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences. In addition to providing independent advice to the government, such an academy would be able to help prepare a strategy to support science-based economic development.

For this effort to make headway, decision-makers will need to be persuaded of its value and be determined to allocate financial support. The organized engagement of scientists to make their voices heard could finally put science on Nicaragua's national agenda.


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