Special Reports

Makerere don awarded £5.25m for health research

Prof. Nelson Sewankambo

Professor Nelson Sewankambo, Principal of the Makerere University College of Health Sciences has been awarded £5.25 million for the Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence in East Africa (THRiVE-2) partnership.

The initiative seeks to transform East African universities into world class research hubs for infectious diseases, neglected tropical disease, neonatal and reproductive health and non-communicable diseases.

He was part of the African research teams in Ivory Coast, Kenya, Senegal and Uganda awarded significant support to conduct world class health research and train the future generation of the continent’s scientists.

According to a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, the Wellcome Trust and the Department for International Development (DFID), UK have committed a further £21 million to the DELTAS Africa initiative, which aims to improve health in Africa through research driven by the most urgent regional challenges.

The four new research programmes will address a range of health needs, from emerging infectious diseases to neonatal health, population health and elimination of malaria.

According to Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, strengthening health research across sub-Saharan Africa is a powerful way to improve people’s lives in the continent and around the world.

“Health crises such as Ebola and now Zika, and long-standing threats such as malaria, TB, HIV and increasingly the non-communicable diseases, will only be solved with a strong research base to inform public health measures and develop new treatments and vaccines. Creating more opportunities for professional scientists supports economic growth and provides a clearer pathway for researchers who want to pursue a successful scientific career in Africa,” he said.

Currently, Africa accounts for 15% of the global population and 25% of the global disease burden, but only produces about 2% of the world’s research output. A shortage of skilled personnel – Africa only has 79 scientists and engineers per million inhabitants, compared with 168 for Brazil, 2,457 for Europe and 4,103 for the United States- and limited infrastructure have contributed to the low research outputs.

The other awardees include Professor Bassirou Bonfoh of Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifique (CSRS) in Cote d’Ivoire who was awarded £5.25 million for the African Science Partnership for Intervention Research Excellence (Afrique One-ASPIRE).

Professor Alex Ezeh, the Executive Director for African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Kenya and Professor Sharon Fonn at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa is awarded £5.25 million for the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa+ (CARTA+).

Professor Oumar Gaye from the Université Cheikh Anta Diop is awarded £5.25 million for the Malaria Research Capacity Development in West and Central Africa (MACARD), an initiative to provide PhD, early and senior post-doctoral fellowships in areas of research relevant to malaria elimination with a special focus on supporting women in research.

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