National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)
3 Barack Obama Drive
P.O. Box 9653
11101 Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania
Professor Yunus Daud Mgaya – Director General
The National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) is the largest public health research institution in Tanzania. It was established by the Parliamentary Act No. 23 of 1979 as a parastatal organization under the Ministry of Health. The establishment of NIMR was in recognition by the government of the need to generate scientific information required in the development of better methods and techniques of enhancing disease management, prevention and control in the country.
The National Institute for Medical Research was established with the following functions:
i) To carry out and promote the carrying out of medical research designed to alleviate disease among the people of Tanzania;
ii) To carry out and promote the carrying out of research into various aspects of local traditional medical practices for the purpose of facilitating the development and application of herbal medicine;
iii) To cooperate with the government or any person, or body of persons, in promoting or providing facilities for, the training of local personnel for carrying out scientific research into medical problems;
iv) To monitor, control and coordinate medical research carried out within Tanzania, or elsewhere on behalf of or for the benefit of the government of Tanzania, and to evaluate the findings of that research;
v) To establish a system of the registration of, and to register the findings of medical research carried out within Tanzania, and promote the practical application of those findings for the purpose of improving or advancing the health and general welfare of the people of Tanzania;
vi) To establish and operate systems of documentation and dissemination of information on any aspect of the medical research carried out by or on behalf of the institute
To be an institution of excellence for advancement of health research and development in Tanzania and beyond
To conduct, coordinate, regulate and promote scientifically and ethically sound, high quality health research and deliver evidence-based information that is responsive to the needs of human wellbeing
Research Centres and Stations
The headquarters of the NIMR are in Dar es Salaam. The institute has established 14 centres and stations in seven regions of Tanzania.
Human resource: As of January 2015, the National Institute for Medical Research had a total of 813 staff, of which 550 are on permanent terms of employment and 263 are on contractual terms. The institute has 142 research scientists. Of these, 41 (28.9%) are PhD, 78 (54.9%) Master and 23 (16.2%) Bachelor degree holders. In addition, there are 60 laboratory technologists and 9 Systems Analysts. The male:female ratio of the research scientists stands at 2.7:1. Currently, 40 research scientists are undertaking PhD programmes.
Infrastructure: The headquarters and all Centres except Muhimbili are housed in NIMR buildings. NIMR has in place laboratories (BSL-1 to 3) for microbiology, parasitology and protozoology in Korogwe, Tanga, Mwanza, Amani, Muhimbili and Tabora. Entomology laboratory facilities are available at Amani, Mwanza and Tukuyu. It has a high-tech Research and Public Health Laboratory with capacity for virology and quality assurance in Dar es Salaam. Most of these laboratories are equiped with up-to-date facilities such as HPLC, ELISA and PCR machines, and Haematology and Clinical chemistry analysers and Flowcytometers. The Muhimbili Centre operates as the National Central Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory. Other facilities include a dispensary, health centre, experimental huts, mosquito-spheres, animal houses, insectaries, libraries and training facilities.
Since its inception in 1979 NIMR has evolved from a disease specific approach research to the current wider mandate that includes all health research at the local, regional, zonal and national levels. The current major research areas fall under three major themes: Biomedical Research, Social Determinants of Health and Health Systems Research. Research carried out by the Institute are guided by the National Health Research Priorities.
Coordination and Monitoring
Health research coordination and monitoring in Tanzania is under the Medical Research Coordinating Committee (MRCC). MRCC is the national health research coordinating body that ensures all health research follows country’s ethics requirements. The Committee functions include coordination of health research conducted in Tanzania. The MRCC has delegated functions of registering, ethical review, approving and monitoring of research to be carried in Tanzania to the National Health Research Ethics Review Sub-Committee (NatHREC). NatHREC is hosted at the National Institute for Medical Research Headquarters.
From its establishment, NIMR started with five-year development planning. Since 1999, three plans have been implemented. The first medium range strategic plan (1999-2002) was developed in 1999. The second strategic plan covered the period from 2003 to 2008. The third Strategic Plan covered the period of 2008-2013. The current strategic plan has been prepared to cover the period of 2014-2019. The current Strategic Plan envisages to achieve the following Strategic Objectives:
1. Governance structures and systems for effective performance of the institute are in operation
2. Resources for effective implementation of NIMR strategic plan are made available
3. Health research regulatory capacity strengthened
4. Health Research and Development Carried Out
5. Utilization of research findings promoted
6. Training programs in health and allied sciences established and executed.
Research finding dissemination and utilisation
The Institute disseminates general information on health as generated from diverse research conducted in the country through its quarterly published Tanzania Journal of Health Research. The Journal was established in 1997 and became available on-line since 2007. In addition, NIMR has been since 1982, organising annual scientific conferences, which bring together research scientists, policy makers, practitioners, development partners and media both from within and outside Tanzania.