Participants in the panel discussion included the Ugandan State Minister for Health in charge of General Duties, the Deputy Minister for Health of Mozambique, the Director-General of the West Africa Health Organization, the Policy Officer for EDCTP at the European Commission, and a representative of the Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA). The panel discussion was moderated by EDCTP’s High Representative for Africa, Dr Leonardo Simão.
The main messages from this meeting were:
- Political and financial support from individual African governments is vital to achieve regulatory governance and clinical research capacity.
- African governments need to engage and create an environment that a) uses results from health research, b) adapts national health policies to invest in new and better medicines, and c) makes these accessible through public health systems.
- The central role for clinical research to generate contextualised and feasible options was emphasised by WHO AFRO. Needed are more effectiveness studies conducted in real life environments and more product-focused implementation studies.
- In general, capacity building and skills development must improve including greater participation of women in health research.
The meeting is part of an EDCTP project focused on supporting greater involvement of the 17 African EDCTP member countries in the EDCTP programme. Strong national health research systems would enable deeper involvement and offer possibilities for more country ownership and greater alignment with specific national health research needs of the EDCTP programme.
In collaboration with WHO AFRO, the first step taken was an assessment of the status of the national health research systems (HNRSs). In a workshop in Accra, Ghana in July 2018, EDCTP had engaged heads of government research units and representatives from the African EDCTP member countries. Thirty technical officers from these African member countries were trained to implement an assessment tool developed by WHO AFRO – the NHRS barometer – in their respective countries. The tool was discussed and adapted during the workshop. The results of this survey – expanded by WHO AFRO to all countries in the region – were presented at the meeting in Dakar.