Only a third of research funding is actually spent in Africa

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Esther Nakkazi
Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net


It is hoped that funding for the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) phase II, which runs from 2014-2024 will increase from €400 million to €1 billion.

Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, while opening the high level meeting, in Cape Town, yesterday morning said  ‘Horizon2020’ would allocate €1 billion from a total research budget of €9 billion to EDCTP2.

But, while these funds are being requested, there is a recession in Europe, and thus the question, why should the European tax payers increase research funding to eliminate diseases in developing countries?

The answer is obvious but an illusion according Nirj Deva, a member of the European Parliament. “It is because it will create jobs in Europe.”

Trevor Mundel, the president of the Global Health program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was blunt about it.

At the EDCTP2 meeting in Cape Town, Mundel said investment in Research and Development for Poverty Related and Neglected Disease (PRNDs) created 13000 European jobs from 2002-2010.

For you who wish to know why the developed world spends so much on research in Africa and on diseases that do not exist any more in their countries, it is to create jobs.

But it is a win-win situation sometimes that would help Europe get out of the recession and also build capacity of African researchers in Africa.

For instance, it is a staggering fact that by spending on research to wipe out meningitis aids, malaria and TB in developing countries, every Euro spent will create employment in Europe and secondary employment in Africa said Deva.

Studies show that for every €3 spent by EU governments in research in Africa, €2  are reinvested back into European labs, universities and companies and create jobs and growth for their economies.

That means only a third of total amounts announced by EU for the funding research in Africa, is actually spent in Africa. For instance if €1 billion Euros was allocated for EDCTP2, only a third would be spent in Africa.

In a way it is in the interest of the funders, in this case the EU. Maybe that is why African governments do not care to match the funding, which would translate into €2 billion in case the EDCTP2 is approved by the EU parliament?

But who is the loser, the Africans, they never get to own anything from the research carried out on African people. At least the Europeans create jobs for their people.

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