By Maxwell Awumah .
The European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) has spent a total of €258 million in scheme funding, out of its € 1.2 billion European Union support budget for clinical trials and research, spanning 2014-2024 period in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The €258 million research facility attracted funding for 125 clinical trials and research projects from 2014-2017.
Dr Michael Makanga, Executive Director of the European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), disclosed these during the Kick-Off meeting for the development and strengthening of National Health Research Systems (NHRS) in Sub-Saharan Africa taking place in Accra.
The meeting is held under the auspices of the EDCTP in collaboration with the World Health OrganiSation Africa and the Ministry of Health.
The goal of the meeting is to initiate the process towards the development of strategic policy blueprint that would outline the linkages between EDCTP programme activities and the development and strengthening of NHRS of the 17 African member associations.
He said out of that funding, €217 million was used to fund 35 large-scale clinical trials and clinical research activities conducted by the European-African consortia.
On capacity development, 28.47 million Euros was expended on 35 projects that strengthened the enabling environment for conducting clinical trials and clinical research. Again, 12.25 million was invested in call and grants for 58 fellowships that focused on the career development of individual researchers.
Dr Makanga said on the portfolio of grants by diseases, €88 million went into TB, 64 million for HIV and HIV associated infections. Malaria received €32 m, neglected infections disease gets €25m, emerging diseases €24m and diarrhoeal disease and lower respiratory tract infections receiving a €4 million funding.
The EDCTP Executive Director said Ghana’s health-related research institutions; including the Noguchi Memorial, the University of Ghana and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), are featuring strongly in the Pan-African Network for rapid Research, Response, Relief and Preparedness for Infectious Diseases Epidemics (PANDORA-ID-NET) and again in the African Coalition for Epidemic Research Response and Training (ALERRT).
Dr Moses Bockarie, Head of Africa Office of the EDCTP has called for targeted collaboration and corrective action within country leadership and ownership as part of the sustainable development agenda into clinical trials and research.
He said there must be conscious and systemic approaches to addressing the gaps in National Health Research Systems (NHRS) as urgent as it is critical.
Dr Bokarie, also the Director of South-to-South Cooperation of EDCTP said investment in health research and NHRS is key to connecting health research results and their translation to policies and practice.
Dr Owen Kaluwa, WHO Country Representative said the low contribution to global research output by Africa, estimated at 1.3 per cent, attests to the challenges and this should ignite collective synergies to shore up investment in research for development.
He said statistics conducted by the WHO-AFRO in 2014 attest to the weak research capacity in the region with twenty-four out of 47 (51%) countries having no national health research policy, 27 (57%) were without law governing health research, 25 (53%) lacked a strategic health research plan, 22 (47%) had no health research agenda, 21 (45%) were without a national health research institute/council and 25 (53%) lacked a dedicated budget to support research in their ministries of health.
Participants attending this meeting are from the WHO-Afro Advisory committee on health research and development, the EDCTP Secretariat, WHO-Afro Health and Services cluster team, AU and regional economic communities, health professionals within Ministries of Health, Science and Technology and higher learning institutions, ethics bodies and regulatory authorities across Africa.
Government Ministers are committed to presenting the results of the NHRS surveys during the next meeting of the African Ministers of Health to be held in Dakar Senegal in August 2018.