EDCTP-II: No easy walk ahead


Munyaradzi Makoni
Freelance journalist

There is no easy way nor single bullet answer to coming out with efficacious world celebrated results in clinical trials

Journey, there are many roads that will lead to the same destination. These are views and comments that came out of the EDCTP meeting.

Understanding the achievements of EDCTP’s first phase will be instrumental in guiding the second phase of the programme, according to Hannah Akuffo, Chair of the EDCTP General Assembly in Sweden

“When we started we are trying to understand the bureaucracy in Europe, there were different views. We had difficulty in planning and the challenge was how to pull off this ambitious programme, but we manage it,” Akuffo reflected ont the early days.

The radical increase in funding to a target of  Euro 200million, half of which has to be a contribution of African countries that will be matched by European partners shows our desire for the project to achieve even greater things,” she went on.

“Having a lot of money to manage is a huge challenge. We will be working with new partners building up partnerships. These are new relationships that need to be built,” Akuffo added.

She told SciDev.Net that they were keen, among other things, in a focus that develops drugs and makes EDCTP phases feed into each other.

Akuffo feels greater engagement with private sector, philanthropy; the industry both small and large has to be employed to bolster the second phase of the programme.

Marja Esveld, vice-chair of the EDCTP General Assembly in the Netherlands weighed in saying renewed emphasis on public private emphasis was good for the programme.

Kenya’s Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, Margaret Kamar lauded EDCPT for success in building capacity and creating networks of excellence, but called for evaluation of the centers to ensure maximum returns from centres of excellence established by EDCTP.

“We may need to evaluate what centres can do best,” she said.

An official in the same ministry, Eric Mwangi, wondered if enough was being done to ensure that areas of research were effectively covered; for instance where there is high TB prevalence.

“Among pastoralists in the same quarters in Africa, TB is spread through milk. Are they being covered in trials,” he posed

According to Salim Abdool Karim, President of the South Africa’s Medical Research Council, said such centres across Africa must be used to mobilise some of the continent’s best scientists to be part of the research programmes.

Creation of drugs and new diagnostics, he said, would benefit a lot more from sharing expertise.

“We should help EDCTP to make a genuine partnership, no one way partnership could be successful in addressing the challenges we face,” Karim said.

“Further simplfy greater partnership among stakeholders,” said Elly Katabira AIDS chair for 2012 and the president of International Aids Society who hoped for improved synergies in the EDCTP2.

But Adeyinka Falusi a bioethics professor from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria felt that a large number of women were not being brought to participate in the actual research science. She wanted the EDCTP program to promote more of them.


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