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The amount of clinical research carried out in sub-Saharan Africa is insufficient given the region’s large burden of disease, according to a group of researchers who identified the number of clinical trials being conducted in the region.

Petros Isaakidis from the University of Ioannina, Greece, together with colleagues from South Africa and Greece, found that only 1,179 randomised controlled trials have been conducted in sub-Saharan Africa in the past 50 years. Worldwide, almost a million such trials have been carried out.

“Despite recent improvements, few clinical trials are done in sub-Saharan Africa,” the researchers say in a report published in the 23 March issue of the British Medical Journal. Yet the region’s burden of disease per million people is estimated to be five times higher than that of developed countries.

“The area needs more international support,” they say. “African researchers should have a meaningful say in setting research priorities, and outside support should help develop sustainable local research capacity.”

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