The question of who sets the research agenda remains.


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Africa Analysis: Benefits of the restarted R&D alliance

“Many people argue that donors’ influence over health research agendas in Africa remains too strong.” Linda Nordling

Speed read

  • The second phase of Europe-Africa clinical trials partnership has started
  • It could help African countries increase their investment in health R&D
  • African governments need to help sustain the gains to be made


The reboot of the Europe-Africa clinical trials alliance could make Africa invest in health R&D, writes Linda Nordling.

In 2010 in Mali’s capital Bamako, representatives from over two dozen African health ministries signed a ‘call for action’ urging their governments to allocate at least two per cent of health ministry budgets toresearch. [1]

The aim of the call was for African governments to take ownership of the research agenda, which at the time was viewed as too driven by international donor priorities.

Nearly a decade on, many people argue that donors’ influence over health research agendas in Africa remains too strong. And the two per cent goal is still a pipe dream.

There is no doubt that African countries have seen increased investment in health research. But with most of this increase coming from international donors, the question of who sets the research agenda remains.

Mechanisms matter

In 2008, after the Bamako meeting, critics condemned the lack of mechanisms in the call of action for its proposed implementation. [2]

But for countries looking for a way to fulfil their two per cent ambition, a reinvented Europe-Africa clinical trials programme offers a vehicle for doing so and for directing international funding towards national priorities.

Read the full story: SciDevNet

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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.