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Public-private partnership organisations (PPPOs) — which focus on African neglected diseases — have failed to change the imperialist research paradigm or involve African researchers on an equal basis, say T. J. Tucker and M. W. Makgoba in Science.

Every major PPPO is headquartered in Europe or the United States: "Not one 'global' PPPO is led by a person who is a developing-country national, and not one resides within one of the developing countries severely affected by neglected infectious diseases."

Senior staff and boards of directors show similar trends. And although disbursements to developing countries have been impressive, "Africans are only able to access resources that (predominantly) non-Africans decide are appropriate."

But the African research leadership community must ask whether they are not partly responsible for the situation, particularly by failing to counteract corruption, the authors say.

In addition, African states have not created career structures for clinicians and scientists, so there is relatively little capacity to build PPPOs in Africa, a situation which must be changed by African states investing in health-related PPPOs.

Those who fund and control PPPOs must change the way these organisations operate or they might increase scientific capacity disparities, power inequities and scientific deficiencies — and Africans will remain relatively disempowered.

Link to the Science article


Science 320, 1016 (2008)