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Although Libya is one of Africa's wealthiest countries, years of political isolation and international sanctions have dealt a serious blow to its science sector.

Now, Libyan doctor Mustafa Eteer's dream of bringing modern medical science to his country could be realised as work begins on the construction of a US$100 million medical science complex near the capital Tripoli.

The Centre for Infectious Disease Control in Africa is part of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi's ambition to make Libya a centre of scientific and technological excellence for the African continent, reports John Bohannon in this article in Science.

The centre's 100 scientists will focus on malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. It will have its own diagnostic laboratory, both generating income and reducing the high costs of sending blood samples abroad for testing, as is currently done.

Eteer says control of the centre will be handed over to a Westerner, in order to escape local political pressures.

However, the death sentences that Libya issued to foreign medics last year could scare away foreign researchers. Other obstacles are the distance separating Libya from sub-Saharan Africa and a lack of trust from its neighbours.

Link to full article in Science