Tag Archives: sub-saharan africa

How about insurance in research for clinical trials participants?


Esther Nakkazi
Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net

How about some of the funds raised for clinical trials being used for insurance, were the thoughts of some delegates at the high-level European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) II conference in Cape Town on 5 November.

Modest Mulenga, the Director, Disease Research Centre, Zambia said the ethics committees in Africa have been strengthened to conduct fairly ethical clinical trials but participants were not insured.

So far, under EDCTP-I, the first African Regional Networks of Excellence for clinical trials was launched while National Regulatory Authorities was also established and ethics review capacities in many African countries were strengthened.

The Pan-African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR) as an African initiative funded by EDCTP, which is now officially recognised as a WHO Primary Clinical Trials Registry was also established in EDCTP I.

“We can not go on pretending, participants in clinical trials should not only be protected ethically but even against any harm because this is research-it may or may not work,” said Mulenga.

The feeling by some scientists at the EDCPT II conference was that Insurance companies should come on board to look out for and protect clinical trials participants.

However, they stressed that insurance of participants in trials should especially be done by drug companies since they do product testing.

Partners like EDCTP would never agree to use their resources for insurance assured Thomas Nyirenda of EDCTP.

If funding partners were to insure participants it would mean that most of the money raised would be probably go to compensation. For instance, with a grant of 200 million Euros, if a clinical trial caused any harm, all these funds would be spent on compensation.

“Pharmaceutical companies should insure the participants and I think in most cases it is provided for but Africans researchers overlook it,” said Nyirenda.


New external assistance approach for more research needed urgently


Esther Nakkazi
Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net

If Africa is to adequately address some of the disease burdens that have been choking the continent for years on end, a new external assistance approach for more research is not just needed but urgently. These were the humbling thoughts from the Spokesman for the European Parliament at the second High Level Conference on the EDCTP (the European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership)

Nirj Deva, the Conservative MEP for the South East of England and Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s International Development Committee warned that a fresh approach is needed towards international aid

“Every 40 Seconds a child living in Sub-Saharan Africa dies from a mosquito bite. There are 35 million people living today with HIV and this number will only continue to grow. Today, right now, people all over the world live and struggle with abject poverty, hunger and ill health.”
And he rhetorically asked, “How could we have allowed this to happen?” “How did we manage to overlook the fact that one billion people are living their lives lacking the most basic access to fundamental healthcare that we take for granted everyday?” “If we do not help who will?

To him, thinking that this challenge can be overcome by the sheer donation of more aid, more money is nothing but a delusion.  Instead adoption of a more intelligent strategy that takes into account all the factors at issue: “economic development, improved housing, better education and basic healthcare” is imperative

“Quite rightly my taxpayers will demand why we should increase research funding to eliminate diseases that don’t affect them, especially at a time when money is already tight.”
“The answer is simple and not entirely altruistic: Jobs; jobs created in Europe. 13,000 new jobs have already been created in Europe between 2002 and 2010 through exactly such investments in research into poverty related diseases.

This staggering fact means that every Euro we spend to wipe out meningitis, aids, malaria or TB in third world countries, results in increased employment here at home. It is a win – win that could help us out of the recession.”

Nirj Deva concluded his key-note address on Monday stating: “We live in a rapidly developing world defined by unprecedented innovations and opportunities. Yet, unless we act now, today, we will consign not only those already left behind, but their children as well to a continuing struggle for survival. They will never catch up, occupied instead by the need to find water, food, shelter, basic sanitation and medicine. We will have failed them.”

The high level conference that was widely attended by ministers from Europe and Africa as well as notable public and private stakeholders such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called for a rise in funds towards the EDCTP, an increase from 400 million to 1 billion Euros


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


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.