New project to find what works in research and development strengthening


A new research programme aims to advance current understanding of best practices in global health research capacity strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa.

The five-year Learning Research Programme (LRP), which was supported with £800,000 (almost US$1.7 million) award last month (20 April), is to work in partnership with DELTAS Africa initiatives to help generate research evidence.

DELTAS Africa, a partnership scheme involving the UK-based Wellcome Trust, the African Academy of Sciences’ Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AAS-AESA) and the UK Department for International Development, seeks to train and develop world-class researchers to address major health challenges and develop collaborations that translate research uptake into policy in sub-Saharan Africa.

Together with the LRP, DELTAS Africa has committed £60 million (almost US$88 million) to 11 African research teams over a five-year period (2015-2020), says a statement from the Wellcome Trust that announced the LRP funding.

According to Justin Pulford, a senior lecturer at the UK-based Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), which is leading the LRP, a team of LRP researchers will investigate the collective experience of DELTAS Africa consortia scientific staff as they implement their respective research programmes, looking for common barriers and enablers to equitable research careers and research uptake.

‘The LRP research team will also systematically review the public health training opportunities, gaps and overlaps evident among current African-based training providers to support the progression towards regional provision of high quality, comprehensive and locally relevant postgraduate public health training,’ says Pulford, a member of the LSTM implementing the programme.

Imelda Bates, the principal investigator of the LRP and a professor of tropical haematology at LSTM, explains that the research team hopes to learn from the successes and challenges of DELTAS Africa programmes to generate evidence for current and future capacity strengthening programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The LRP will work in collaboration with the AAS-AESA, Kenya-based African Institute for Development Policy and all DELTAS Africa consortia to help achieve its aim, Pulford tells SciDev.Net.

According to Alphonsus Neba, DELTAS Africa programme manager, there is no better way of addressing Africa’s health challenges than generating the evidence required to take concrete and meaningful actions in resolving these challenges.

‘Africa needs to generate evidence to support its policies,’ says Neba, explaining that quality health research and the evidence generated are essential in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Neba applauds African governments for providing basic R&D infrastructure but cautions: ‘The time has come to take these investments a notch higher, especially by mobilising additional financial resources for conducting health research and engaging policymakers to make use of the evidence generated from such research into their decision-making processes.’

Jane Kengeya-Kayondo, East and Southern Africa regional coordinator of Africa Research Excellence Fund, tells SciDev.Net that strengthening health research capacity and training in Africa is one way of enabling better health for Africans.

‘The task is huge and needs many hands. Africa suffers from underdeveloped research leadership capacity, few career opportunities, fragile institutions, low national investment in research and unbalanced North-South relationships,’ Kengeya-Kayondo notes.

This story was sourced from the SciDevNet website.


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