EDCTP and Africa CDC partner to train highly skilled epidemiologists and biostatisticians in Africa

04 April 2021

A new training programme funded by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is set to support the training of 150 highly skilled epidemiologists and biostatisticians in sub-Saharan Africa over a period of three years.

The training is expected to start by October 2021 and end by 2024 and will be led by ten consortiums comprised of institutions from Africa and Europe. When completed, the programme will boost the capacity of National Public Health Institutes, Ministries of Health and other health institutions in Africa to collectively conduct public health research and effectively respond to disease emergencies across the continent.

“This funding of the training of 150 epidemiologists and biostatisticians with a balanced regional distribution represents a very important milestone in the partnership between EDCTP and Africa CDC. We hope this tangible outcome will help reduce the severe shortage of expertise in these important fields.”

Dr Michael Makanga, EDCTP Executive Director

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 efficiently translate them into policy and practice. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the severe shortages of public health workforce and infrastructure and the inadequate capacity for public health research and emergency response across Africa.

In response to this capacity need, EDCTP and Africa CDC partnered in this €5 million initiative to support institutions in Africa and Europe to help raise a cadre of public health workforce that will boost epidemiological and biostatistical capacity in the continent through master’s degree programmes in epidemiology and biostatistics.

“To strengthen healthcare systems in Africa, we must pay attention to our healthcare workforce and find ways to strengthen their capacity. A highly skilled workforce that can implement multi-disease surveillance and effectively respond to disease outbreaks is necessary for our collective health security in the continent, and this is what this programme is about.”

Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC

Following a call published in April 2020, 10 of 45 proposals submitted were selected and this network of ten consortiums will implement their training programmes across the continent over a period of three years.

Analysis of selected projects

The 10 successful project consortia are led by 8 coordinators in sub-Saharan Africa, and 2 coordinators in Europe. Ms Shingai Machingaidze, the EDCTP Project Officer managing this initiative, presents a summary of the 10 selected projects in the map below:
Map: Eight project consortia led by 10 Coordinators from sub-Saharan Africa, and 2 from Europe

The 10 projects will result in the training of a cohort of 150 epidemiologists recruited from across sub-Saharan Africa.

A network of 51 organisations is involved in the 10 successful projects – 42 organisations in West, East, Central, and Southern regions of sub-Saharan Africa, 9 organisations in Europe. These 51 organisations include 24 leading universities in Europe and Africa, working in partnership with National Public Health Institutes,  Ministries of Health, as well as other research and not-for-profit organisations.