Strengthening African research
How can sub-Saharan African countries develop their own capacity to conduct health research, improving fragile health systems at the same time? A new African-led, TDR-supported Initiative to Strengthen Health Research Capacity in Africa (ISHReCA) aims to tackle the challenge.
With its mission to "promote the creation of self-sustaining pools of excellence capable of initiating and carrying out high quality health research in Africa," ISHReCA provides not only a platform for discussion of health research needs but a powerful voice capable of advocating for the governmental and societal support that many health research communities currently lack.
ISHReCA has identified 9 "key requirements" for strengthening health research capacity in Africa, among them: a legal framework in which research can flourish; an improved health research profile among policy makers, the media and the public; secondary-school and tertiary-school science education; the creation of career pathways that allow for the recruiting and retaining of scientific talent; the development of competitive grant and fellowship schemes by African institutions; and the use of funding mechanisms as drivers of change at African institutions.
The product of three meetings between health researchers and funders in Kilifi, Kenya and Cape Town, South Africa in 2007 and Nairobi, Kenya in 2008, ISHReCA is composed of an 11-member steering committee that meets monthly in person or via teleconference. Among the steering committee members are former TDR grantee and MIM secretariat coordinator Francine Ntoumi, and former TDR trainee Wilfred Mbacham principal of the EU sponsored Poverty related Disease College (PRD). ISHReCA is coordinated by current TDR fellow Palmer Netongo. ISHReCA is chaired by Professor Nelson Sewankambo and sponsored by the Wellcome Trust among other funders. The ISHReCA secretariat is temporarily based at WHO/TDR.
ISHReCA encourages researchers to log on to the ISHReCA website and email mailing list and join their voices to the campaign for health research capacity strengthening.