Strengthening national health research systems in sub-Saharan Africa: a first report

22 August 2018

EDCTP published a first report on the project to develop and strengthen national health research systems (NHRS) in sub-Saharan Africa. The report captures the kick-off meeting held in Accra, Ghana on 9-10 July 2018. It brought together over 50 delegates from the 17 African member states of EDCTP and international stakeholders to initiate the development of a strategic plan to strengthen NHRS.

Go to the report

Objectives of the meeting

  • Development of a conceptual framework for assessment of NHRS in Africa
  • Documentation of tools and guidelines for use of the NHRS barometer developed by WHO-AFRO
  • Implementation of the NHRS barometer by government institutions to conduct surveys to assess the NHRS capacities in sub-Saharan African countries (including the 17 African member countries of the EDCTP Association).
  • Development of a strategic policy plan to provide guidance to assess and strengthen health research systems capacity in Africa to generate and utilise research informative to national heath policies.


WHO regional strategy
The discussions were set in the context of the WHO regional strategy on research for health (R4H) which was presented by Dr Juliet Nabyonga-Orem, WHO Medical Officer. WHO analysis showed that many countries in the African region have major challenges in  training and retaining researchers. The aim of the WHO regional strategy is to foster development of national health research systems that generate scientific knowledge for developing technologies, systems and services needed to achieve universal health coverage. The main guiding principles of the strategy are country ownership and evidence-informed decision making..

Preparing for assessments
The second day was primarily dedicated to two break-out sessions. EDCTP General Assembly members and strategic partners discussed capacity building, engaging countries, and the report for the meeting in Dakar. In a second group technical staff familiarised themselves with the NHRS ‘barometer’, a tool developed by WHO AFRO, and discussed recommendations for adjustments of the tool.

Results from the planned  NHRS surveys will be presented at a high-level side event on 31 August during the next meeting of the African Ministers of Health in Dakar, Senegal, from 27-31 August 2018.

Delegates during the plenary opening. Photo: Julian Jacobs, JL Communications