Message from the Executive Director

Prof. Charles MgoneConsolidation as the theme for the 2011 EDCTP Annual Report is very appropriate and pertinent since this was the year that we focused most of our time on the management of on-going projects and active grants. The emphasis was on monitoring the progress of these projects to ensure successful and timely outcomes. From the inception of EDCTP in 2003 till the end of 2011, we have launched a total of 64 calls for proposals; processed 494 applications and awarded 196 grants of which 116 are still active and 80 completed.

During the year, seven calls were launched and 15 grants awarded. As the current programme is approaching the tail end, the emphasis of these calls shifted from large scale clinical trials to the shorter-term projects. Thus in February and August we launched three calls for Senior Fellowship (one of which was restricted to the EDCTP Networks of Excellence for conducting clinical trials) and two for supporting Health Research Ethics Committees. It must be pointed out that these calls are getting more and more competitive. In the two unrestricted Senior Fellowship calls, for instance, there were 73 proposals competing for the available 12 awards and in the Health Research Ethics Committee capacity building calls, 55 proposals vied for the available 20 grants. In addition to these calls there was a ‘Member State Initiated Projects’ call and a new call under the scheme referred to as the ‘Strategic Primer Grants’. This new scheme of calls that was launched in December 2011 is for supporting investigator driven innovative studies to generate data for informing future clinical trials that could potentially be funded under the EDCTP-II programme. The scheme also contributes to maintain momentum and sustain capacity that was generated and developed under the current programme.

The 15 new grants that were signed in 2011 included three that arose from a new joint programming scheme of calls called ‘Joint Call by States (JCMS)’. This call was funded by Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom, and called for proposals to evaluate the impact of clinical trials on the delivery of health services, especially pertaining to mothers’ and children’s welfare.

The maturity of the programme is underpinned by the completion or near completion of several large clinical trials. These include the 4ABC trial that was led by Professor Umberto D’Alessandro that compared the safety and efficacy of four artemisinin-based combination therapies in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria and the phase III pivotal clinical trial of moxafloxacin for the treatment of tuberculosis that was led by Professor Stephen Gillespie. Other studies that concluded in 2011, include the treatment of severe malaria in children using intravenous artesunate that showed a shorter treatment course of three doses given over two days was as effective as that of five doses spread over three days; and acceptance and attitudes of adolescent towards HIV preventive vaccines. These and some other results were presented at the Sixth EDCTP Forum that took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The theme of the EDCTP Forum was Strengthening research partnerships for better health and sustainable development. The Forum was attended by 535 participants from 54 countries who contributed 265 papers of which 127 were presented orally and 138 on posters; the majority (over 60%) of them arising from EDCTP funded projects.

Once again, none of these would have been possible without the unwavering support that we continue to enjoy from all EDCTP constituencies, partners and stakeholders. We sincerely extend our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to you all who have made this possible and unashamedly continue to ask for more since the war is far from over.

Charles S. Mgone
Executive Director