CAAST-Net Plus at COHRED Africa Launch
On the occasion of the launch, COHRED, which is also CAAST-Net Plus partner, co-hosted a dedicated session with Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) and the Fundacion Espanola para la Cooperacion Internacional, Salud y Politica Social (FCSAI).
On the agenda? Public-private sector interaction within EU-Africa collaborative research, and the mechanisms and processes of funding for health research in Africa.
About COHRED Africa
COHRED Africa will implement COHRED's programmes in Africa - in particular, its technical support to governments and private sectors in research and innovation for health. COHRED Africa will also drive the organisation’s technical platforms to advance health research and innovation on the continent, participants attending the launch heard.
COHRED Africa staff and associates are based in Gaborone, Botswana, the base of COHRED Africa, as well as in Pietermaritzburg and Pretoria in South Africa, and in Sousse, Tunisia. The Botswana Innovation Hub is the host of COHRED Africa in Gaborone
COHRED Africa has current work in progress in Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania and with the West African Health Organization.
Bridging the Gaps
Speaking in the session, Prof. John Mugabe of the University of Pretoria said that communication between researchers and the health industry is still severely lacking in the African context.
“Very few companies actually know what research is being done between Africa and Europe in the area of health,” he said.
“In Africa some companies don't know what research is taking place in their own national context.”
Nashween Elaheebocus of the African Development Bank, who also spoke, said that the main problem in Africa is not finding resources but rather finding people who would be committed to health research in Africa.
“Funding is not the problem, funding we can always find. What we can't find is people,” she said.
Representatives from countries like Swaziland, Malawi and Zimbabwe highlighted specific problems in health research and innovation.
Mike Kachedwa, who is chief research officer at Malawi's National Commission for Science and Technology, pointed out that dependence on external funding remains the nation's largest stumbling block.
“Malawi does not have [its] own operational fund to support research despite having a national research agenda,” he said.
The session was chaired by CAAST-Net Plus project representatives, Dr Gatama Gichini and Dr Eric Mwangi of MOEST, and COHRED’s Dr Naija Musolino.
Spaces for Engagement
CAAST-Net Plus aims wherever possible to advocate for private sector involvement in bi-regional research partnerships for greater policy impact.
It encourages cross-sector collaboration not only in the sphere of health research and innovation, but also in climate change, and food and nutrition security, through stakeholder forums, online networking, and policy support.
CAAST-Net Plus held a panel discussion on private-public sector engagement in health research, on the occasion of the seventh EDCTP Forum in Berlin, Germany, earlier this year.
About 50 participants attended the COHRED Africa launch. Participants included health research experts from Africa and abroad, as well as officials from the governments of Kenya, Malawi, Swaziland. Representatives from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership and companies also attended.
*Christiaan van der Merwe, senior journalist at *Research Africa, contributed reporting.
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Disclaimer: CAAST-Net Plus is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n0 311806. This document reflects only the authors’ views and the European Union cannot be held liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.