Strengthening capacity for health research in Africa
Health research has a key role in the development of low-income and middle-income countries. There are several current initiatives that have greatly contributed to capacity strengthening of health research in sub-Saharan Africa, including those supported by WHO and Tropical Disease Research (TDR), the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and Department for Research Cooperation (SAREC), the European Union, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN), the Fogarty International Centre, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Wellcome Trust. However, enormous challenges remain for sub-Saharan Africa to establish a common framework for sustainable research capacity strengthening. The Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health in Bamako will give emphasis to the challenges of research for development and health, the need for more health-system research, and a greater intersectoral approach to science, technology, and health. That health research is indispensable for improving health, equity, and development is now widely accepted,1 yet how sub-Saharan African countries can develop their fragile health systems and their own capacity to do health research is rarely discussed.2 A recent African-led initiative—the Initiative to Strengthen Health Research Capacity in Africa (ISHReCA)—has identified nine key requirements to strengthening health-research capacity in Africa (panel 1). We focus on these requirements and suggest practical strategies for sustainable capacity strengthening in African institutions.