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African research to gain from US$65.3 million initiative
  • African research to gain from US$65.3 million initiative

Copyright: Flickr/ Collins, ILRI

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  • The Wellcome Trust-funded project aims to build capacity of African researchers

  • It will help shape high quality, locally relevant health research in Africa

  • Evaluating health care interventions should receive a priority, an expert says

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[CAPE TOWN] A new long-term development of public health research in Sub-Saharan Africa has received a boost with an announcement of a £40 million (about US$65.3 million) commitment by the Wellcome Trust, a UK-based medical charity.

The programme, called the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS Africa), was launched last month (21 August) and aims to support African institutions, universities and researchers addressing local health priorities.

“We want to help support the development of a new generation of world-class African research leaders who will play a part in shaping and driving high-quality, locally relevant health research.”

Jeremy Farrar, Wellcome Trust


“We want to help support the development of a new generation of world-class African research leaders who will play a part in shaping and driving high-quality, locally relevant health research,” says Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, in a release.

Farrar adds that the five-year initiative will support projects that give African researchers the tools to conduct, publish and lead local studies that can impact health science, policy and practice, noting that those research teams involving collaborations between Sub-Saharan Africa and the international community are of particular interests.

While research themes of interest include HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and mental health, there is no specific set of research questions, says Val Snewin, Wellcome Trust manager of international operations.

Snewin explains that such an approach is to encourage proposals in low-profile research areas in the international realm.


“We want to support African research which maybe wouldn’t have such a high profile through other mechanisms.” Snewin says. “And the areas we expect to come in through this [initiative] will be quite different from the ones which we would see if we were setting the agenda.”

Investigations into the interface between human and animal health and the diseases that cross between the two is one example, she adds, citing Ebola as a neglected disease that is now gaining international attention.
 
The Wellcome Trust has been building the capacity of health researchers in Sub-Saharan Africa, but DELTAS Africa marks a change in direction and resources for the foundation, says Snewin.
 
“DELTAS Africa is more focused on the long-term goals of supporting and generating the future of African health research leaders able to contribute to policy change and research outputs that will eventually lead to improvements in human health,” Snewin adds.
 
Edina Sinanovic, director of the Health Economics Unit at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, tells SciDev.Net that such long-term initiatives could have value for African healthcare.

“The financing of healthcare services and economic evaluation of healthcare interventions of public health importance are some of the areas where this support would be most valuable,” Sinanovic says.

According to the release, preliminary applications for DELTAS Africa will be accepted until next month (2 October). Selected research teams will then be invited to apply in full, with funding decisions expected to be announced in May 2015.

Link to DELTAS Africa outline

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.



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