The new Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) was launched on the 10th of September 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. AESA, which is hosted at AAS headquarters in Nairobi, is intended to bring the centre of gravity for health research funding decision-making from places such as Seattle in the United States and London in the United Kingdom to Africa itself. Its African backers include the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, a continental policy implementation agency. Three big international research funders — the UK-based Wellcome Trust, the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the United States — have earmarked funding programmes that they plan to let AESA administer. From next year, AESA is expected to take over the management of the Wellcome Trust's five-year US$70 million DELTAS programme, which involves seven new African centres of health research and training excellence in subjects ranging from biostatistics to mental health in six African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Mali, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Monitoring equity and research policy
This paper made publicly available by the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars describes trends in Africa in terms of African demographics; the unfinished agenda for maternal and child health; the widespread threat of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; the burden of natural disasters and conflict; system vulnerabilities; and, the demographic, epidemiologic, urban and nutrition transitions that will influence the health and health service delivery in Africa throughout the 21st century. The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of these trends and catalyze action to mitigate their adverse consequences.
Mahmood Mamdani, director of Makerere University's Institute of Social Research in Uganda, has accused universities in Sub-Saharan Africa of not creating researchers but churning out native informers for national and international non-governmental organisations. Addressing academics and students at Makerere, Mamdani said academic research and higher education in most African universities is controlled and dominated by a corrosive culture of consultancy. The little research capacity that exists in Africa, especially in universities, is driven by culture of consultancy and global market trends, with African researchers being used to provide raw material - in form of data - to foreign academics who process it and then re-export it back to Africa. He told his audience that research proposals from African universities are increasingly simply descriptive accounts of data collection and the methods used to collate data. According to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Africa is home to only 2.3% of the world's researchers.
A Unique Opportunity For African Stakeholders to discuss emergent social aspects Of HIV/AIDS research at a meeting preceding the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). 1st ?4th SEPTEMBER 2002; JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA. The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, is establishing SOCIAL ASPECTS OF HIV/AIDS RESEARCH ALLIANCE (SAHARA), an alliance of partners to conduct, support and use social sciences research to prevent further spread of HIV and mitigate the impact of its devastation on South Africa, SADC and other regions of Africa. The African Conference will be a vehicle to improve the effectiveness of the SAHARA and to integrate its activities more closely with those of other organizations and individuals active in HIV and AIDS control within SADC and the African continent, through sharing information on progress and experience on social aspects of HIV/AIDS research.
The African Institute for Development Policy AFIDEP conducted a training workshop for more than 15 parliament staff from 10 African countries on evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) on June 27-28, 2016 in Munyonyo, Uganda. The parliamentary staff included researchers and clerks who support parliamentary health committees. These staff provide committees with briefings on issues to inform their debates and decisions, and therefore play a crucial role in the ecosystem of evidence use in parliament. The workshop equipped the parliamentary researchers and clerks with knowledge and skills in: the critical place of evidence in the legislature; knowledge of where and how to effectively search for evidence, assess its quality, and synthesise and package it appropriately for use by MPs.
The author of this article argues that one decade into the 21st century it is clear that the current situation in African leadership is not conducive to building strong national health research systems in the continent. Consequently, the promise of health systems strengthening may remain elusive, despite positive efforts. He says African countries are not acting according to international declarations, and are reneging on their commitment to take the lead by increasing their investments in health and research for health. More than two-thirds of external funding for health is bypassing government, in contradiction to the guidance of the Paris Declaration and the Accra Plan of Action. The author calls for broader dialogue on how international assistance for health is conceived will be needed to achieve results that can be scaleable and sustainable. Both African governments and external funders will need to examine how they engage to improve health systems, a critical step in improving population health.
From the period of September 1999 to date the Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI) based in Harare, with financial support from International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada has been engaged in a multi-centre study which has strong public health implications: to find out the personal and system related determinants of access to health services by suspected and confirmed tuberculosis patients in developing countries. Tuberculosis being one of the most common killer disease before and present times once again is in the centre of attention of national health authorities, researchers as well as donor community as a re-
emerging phenomenon. To achieve maximum relevance of the study for the Southern African Region, four SADC countries, where tuberculosis is a major public health problem especially in association with HIV/AIDS were selected to participate in this multi-centre study. These countries are South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe being the coordinating centre. Research teams of the above mentioned countries held a workshop in Harare last year to discuss and disseminate the results of the study.
The workshop report and recommendations were compiled are now open for further discussion and review from a wider audience.
This paper explores how Aid for Trade (AfT) projects and programmes are currently evaluated, focusing particularly on the assessment of the impact on poverty and/or poor and excluded groups. The authors found that little publicly available information on whether AfT projects programmes are impacting on poverty. There is typically a gap between strategic ambitions and statements on poverty reduction and the actual project and programme design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. Generally, poverty reduction is measured only at the goal level (macro‐level) and AfT projects and programmes often focus on institutional strengthening and improving policy making (or negotiation) processes, with only long‐term indirect impacts on poverty. In these cases, the effects on poverty reduction and/or poor and excluded groups are typically not assessed. By and large, causal links between what a project delivers and the impact on poverty is based on a series of assumptions (and, in some cases, a leap of logic) unless poor people are direct beneficiaries of the project/programme. The authors call for more rigorous and realistic impact assessments on poverty impacts, and greater funder accountability and transparency, with regular, independent evaluations that go beyond reporting monitoring information only. Funders must commit to provide much-needed data for decision making.
This study describes implementation of South Africa’s HIV monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system, determines the extent to which it is integrated with the district health information system (DHIS), and evaluates factors influencing the extent of HIV M&E integration. The study was conducted in one health district in South Africa. Data were collected through key informant interviews with programme and health facility managers and review of M&E records at health facilities providing HIV services. Results indicated that the HIV M&E system is top-down, over-sized, and captures a significant amount of energy and resources to primarily generate antiretroviral treatment (ART) indicators. Processes for producing HIV prevention indicators are integrated with the district health information system. However, processes for the production of HIV treatment indicators by-pass the DHIS and ART indicators are not disseminated to district health managers. Specific reporting requirements linked to ear-marked funding, politically-driven imperatives, and mistrust of DHIS capacity are key drivers of this silo approach. In conclusion, parallel systems that bypass the DHIS represent a missed opportunity to strengthen system-wide M&E capacity. Integrating HIV M&E (staff, systems and process) into the health system M&E function would mobilise ear-marked HIV funding towards improving DHIS capacity to produce quality and timely HIV indicators that would benefit both programme and health system M&E functions.
This newsletter highlights areas of work for the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (Alliance-HPSR), including the Bamako Ministerial Forum on Research for Health; identifying priority research questions; enhancing policy maker capacity to use evidence; and the International Health Partnership and what it means for health systems.