International Women’s Day 2023: Innovation and technology for gender equality
As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, EDCTP wishes to express its commitment to the theme ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’. Women are particularly disadvantaged and underrepresented in these areas. Therefore, EDCTP has been very intentional about increasing female active participation and growth in its funding programmes, which has resulted in a sharp increase throughout the programme’s lifespan.
Women in epidemiology and biostatistics
For decades, Africa has faced challenges in responding to public health emergencies. Epidemiological data is often unavailable or severely limited, and there is a shortage of skilled personnel and systems to collect and analyse available data and translate them into policy and practice. To address this capacity gap, EDCTP and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partnered in a €7.5 million initiative to boost epidemiological and biostatistical capacity on the African continent through Master’s degree programmes in epidemiology and biostatistics. Ten consortia were selected to provide this ‘EPI-Biostat’ training, comprising 38 African and 8 European institutions. Currently, they are training 151 MSc candidates in epidemiology and biostatistics: 63 females (42%) and 88 males (58%).
We asked one of the EPI-Biostat Fellows, Mrs Jeomba Mwakondja Alisa, how she thinks women can claim their role in science and technology.
Women in health systems management
Mrs. Delese Mimi Darko was awarded an EDCTP Ethics and Regulatory activities grant for the BERC-Africa project, building and enhancing regulatory capacity in Ghana. With over 30 years of experience, Mrs. Darko rose through the ranks at the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) Ghana to become the first female Chief Executive Officer in 2017. Mrs Darko was instrumental in designating the FDA as a Regional Center of Regulatory Excellence, and the establishment and implementation of the Food Safety Policy and Food Emergency Response Plan in Ghana. Under her leadership, the FDA has introduced many innovations including the Progressive Licensing Scheme, in collaboration with the Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA). She currently chairs the Steering Committee of the WHO African Vaccines Regulatory Forum (AVAREF) and serves on several international committees including Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS), the West African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Steering Committee.
We asked Mrs Delese Mimi Darko how she navigated the path towards leadership of key national and international institutions.
Women in data
Professor Helen Ayles led the TREATS project, which investigated whether combined HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) interventions targeting entire populations have an impact on the burden of TB. Nested within the study, qualitative and economic data collection and evaluation of improved diagnostic tools for TB were included. Thus, data management and statistical analysis were key, allowing rigorous analysis and triangulation of the data, which can also be used in mathematical and economic modelling to predict the impact and cost-effectiveness of this approach.
The majority of the research team members from the TREATS consortium are women. We asked Professor Ayles about her experiences in working with this largely female team.