Still much to do for Sub-Saharan Africa’s health

MunyaradziMakoni

Munyaradzi Makoni
Freelance journalist


Perhaps, what plagues the minds of many in Sub-Saharan Africa is what still needs to be done to ensure that the three main poverty-related diseases of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria are resolutely conquered.

This will be one of the underlying questions when the consultation of African and international stakeholders on the second programme of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) gets underway  in Cape Town on 5-6 November.

When it started in 2003, the EDCTP’s aim was to accelerate the development of new or improved drugs, vaccines, microbicides and diagnostics mainly against the poverty-related diseases.  But things seem not to have changed considerably as was, perhaps, the anticipation. The soul searching questions will now include how to do this better.

While taking stock and giving grounded focus for the EDCTP’s second phase the programme of action has to be clearly spelt out at this meeting.

What lessons were learnt from EDCTP-I, what direction the second phase will take, how committed are European and African countries and exploring private sector participation particularly philanthropic organisations.

The second phase of the EDCTP programme is expected to start in January 2014 as part of Horizon 2020.

The scope of second EDCTP is expected to include other neglected infectious diseases and carry collaborative research with other developing countries outside sub-Saharan Africa when possible and necessary.

A case study by Michael Makanga, EDCTP’s Director South-South Cooperation and Head of Africa Office, has shown that the establishment of four regionally located ‘Networks of Excellence’ for conducting clinical trials and promoting research in Sub-Saharan Africa could enabling advances in the prevention and treatment of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

EDCTP-I brought improved knowledge and capacity and is bringing in quality of clinical research and practice in Sub-Saharan Africa. This has raised the bar for interventions for Europe and developing countries to jointly work together more effectively. Better things are expected from this relationship.

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