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Meeting showcases Africa’s ground-breaking health research

Some of Africa’s most prominent scientific researchers will gather to share their ground-breaking work in Accra, Ghana, from 3-5 July 2017. The scientists, representing 54 institutions in 21 countries across the continent, are participating in the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa Annual Meeting, a US$100 million programme to build world class research leaders.  The ambitious initiative was launched in 2015 with funding commitments through 2020 by the African Academy of Sciences and the NEPAD Agency’s Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), with the support of the Wellcome Trust and the UK’s Department for International Development. DELTAS Africa is dedicated to training the next generation of scientific leaders on the continent at the level of master’s, PhD and postdoctoral fellowship. It also builds the infrastructure to produce world class research to address Africa’s health and research priorities.   “We are glad to be hosting some of Africa’s best minds in Ghana, which shows a commitment from our scientists to galvanise resources to solving our pressing health challenges,” said Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Ghana’s Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.    In the two years since its implementation, DELTAS Africa has recruited close to 500 master’s, PhD and postdoctoral fellows, half of whom are women. “We are proud of the progress so far. Through DELTAS Africa, we are contributing to increasing the population of African health researchers and women scientists and providing the infrastructure needed to do quality research to improve health outcomes and to retain our best young talent on the continent,” said Dr Tom Kariuki, African Academy of Sciences Interim Executive Director and AESA Director. Africa’s global share of health researchers is a meagre 0.3 percent while women researchers across different scientific disciplines account for only 22% of African researchers. This limits the continent’s efforts to improve its public health systems, a prerequisite to creating healthy nations. As a result, the continent, which represents 17% of the world’s population, bears a disproportionate 25% of the global disease burden. Devastating outbreaks such as Ebola have underscored the lack of trained doctors and other healthcare providers, as well as outdated and underdeveloped health and research systems.  By 2034, the continent is forecast to be home to the world’s largest working age population of 1.1 billion. Building the knowledge base that will create high level R&D driven jobs for this young population so they can live, work and thrive in Africa, will require massive domestic and foreign investment in African R&D. AESA and its partners, such as Wellcome and DFID are setting the pace through investments in DELTAS Africa. DELTAS Africa promises to reap the population dividend by improving research environments, training researchers who are conducting important studies that shed light on infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and population and public health challenges, including:

  • Vaccine development for malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis including finding ways of controlling and eliminating endemic diseases in Africa
  • Large population studies to track health changes and inform policy to adopt and implement adaptive measures
  • Better understanding of neglected tropical diseases that will lead to the development of new treatment and preventative approaches.
Dr Alphonsus Neba, the Programme Manager for DELTAS Africa, said, “Healthy nations are wealthy nations. Health research generates the knowledge to improve health systems and provide a productive and healthy workforce that can contribute to socio-economic development.”   The DELTAS Africa Annual Meeting also provides an essential platform for intra-African collaboration, which still significantly lags behind foreign collaboration. Of the continent’s six most productive research nations – Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia — none of its top collaborators are fellow African nations. “Collaboration is key to optimising our limited resources to solve our common challenges,” says Dr Neba. Read more bout the 11 DELTAS Africa programmes here: http://www.aasciences.ac.ke/aesa/programmes/deltas/                                             ### About DELTAS Africa The Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa is a US$100 million programme supporting the Africa-led development of world-class researchers and scientific leaders in Africa. This is a long-term programme, which, over an initial period of five years (2015-2020), is supporting 11 collaborative teams headed by world class researchers and spanning 54 lead and partner institutions from across the continent to invest in research infrastructure and offer training fellowships and mentorship. DELTAS Africa’s ultimate goal is to produce researchers with the capacity to publish and lead locally relevant and high-quality research to impact health science, policy and practice in Africa. This new generation of scientists will play a major part in shaping and driving a locally relevant health research agenda in Africa, contributing to improved health and development on the continent. About AESA Launched in 2015, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) is an Africa-led, Africa-centred, and Africa-specific platform for developing strategies, mobilising resources, implementing science, technology and innovation (STI) programmes in Africa and evaluating the impact of these investments. AESA was created by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD Agency) in partnership with the Wellcome Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and the UK Department for International Development, DFID.  AESA was founded to disrupt the status quo and scientific landscape, and to ensure that Africa takes ownership and leadership in shaping the destiny of African science. Its mission is to catalyse investments, strategies and programmes that promote the brightest minds in Africa, foster scientific excellence, inspire research leadership and accelerate innovation in ways that will improve lives and shift the centre of gravity for African science to Africa. Join us on Facebook.com/aesaafrica and Twitter @AAS_AESA and learn more at www.aesa.ac.ke   About the Wellcome Trust The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We provide more than £700 million a year to support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine. Our £18 billion investment portfolio gives us the independence to support such transformative work as the sequencing and understanding of the human genome, research that established front-line drugs for malaria, and Wellcome Collection, our free venue for the incurably curious that explores medicine, life and art. www.wellcome.ac.uk    About DFID The Department for International Development (DFID) is leading the UK Government in fighting poverty through job creation, women and girls empowerment and helping save lives in humanitarian emergencies. DFID’s Research and Evidence Division (RED) objective is to make DFID more systematic in using evidence as a basis for how best to reduce global poverty, and provide high quality relevant evidence to others. It aims to achieve this through commissioning research on key questions in development, robust evaluations of UKaid’s funded programmes, high quality statistics and active engagement with policy makers.  
For more information on research funding offered by the Department for International Development and its programme partners please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-development/about/research

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