Launching a $70M Programme to Drive Quality Health Research

Launching a $70M Programme to Drive Quality Health Research

DELTAS Africa ll consortia awarded at the DELTAS Africa ll launch event in Nairobi, Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, 11 May, 2023 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- The Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation) has launched the second phase of a multimillion-dollar programme developing world-class research and African scientific leaders on the continent, while strengthening African institutions. The second phase of the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training, and Science in Africa (DELTAS Africa) programme provides $70M through the joint funding support of Wellcome and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). DELTAS Africa II funds 14 consortia in nine African countries, with partnerships and networks across the globe, to produce quality scientific data and information for evidence-based decision making generated by world class science leaders working in conducive and enabling environments. It also drives the development of a critical mass of globally competitive research leaders.

African governments have invested in the foundational elements of Research & Development (R&D) such as higher education systems and infrastructure. However, African nations contribute 1.3% of global R&D with average national budgets of 0.4% of their gross domestic product (GDP) compared to a global average of 1.4%-1.7% [UNESCO Science Report Towards 2030]. As a result, the continent’s research capacity lags behind the rest of the world. This capacity is paramount in addressing the continued health challenges that disproportionately affect the continent with [the highest] global disease burden of 25% [World Health Organization]. 

“The DELTAS Africa programme paves the way for new scientific leaders who address Africa’s most pressing public health challenges and generate data and evidence that informs policy and Africa’s development agenda. Through phase one, we have already seen how impactful science funding can be. These scientists have contributed to health policy development globally, improved research infrastructure and increased scientific knowledge through peer reviewed publications and innovations in health. The funding built a critical mass of globally competitive research leaders who are now internationally recognised,” says Dr Alphonsus Neba, Deputy Director of Programmes and DELTAS Africa Programme Manager, SFA Foundation.

DELTAS Africa II, (2023 to 2026), supports 14 programmes in 75 institutions, across 36 countries, with the inclusion of institutions in North Africa and Lusophone countries that had previously not been covered. The consortia, led by world class African research leaders, recognise the interconnectedness of Climate Change, Food Security and Health and the necessity to balance research excellence and equity. DELTAS Africa II emphasis is on intra-African collaboration, engagement and partnership between institutions that are relatively well-resourced and those that are low-resourced. The consortia led from Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, are advancing evidence and knowledge on key R&D priorities, including discovery, translation, implementation and operational sciences for infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis; neglected tropical diseases; non-communicable diseases; and social sciences and humanities. The leaders will be supported to contribute to science research, policy and practice and stimulate science innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent. 

“In this second phase, we are advancing a programme that is truly pan-African, multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary. Together, we bring a wide range of expertise to address the challenges faced by our continent, and to ensure that researchers and institutions are not left behind in efforts to close the critical gaps in the science ecosystem. This all to ensure healthy and productive nations for acceleration of economic growth,” says Dr Tom Kariuki, Executive Director, SFA Foundation. 

Tom Kariuki SFA Foundation Executive Director at the DELTAS Africa ll launch event in Nairobi, Kenya

DELTAS Africa II follows an initial five-year programme launched and funded by Wellcome and FCDO in 2015 with phase I of the programme implemented by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD). The success of DELTAS Africa I (2015-2022) included, for example, advising the World Health Organization on the development of a protocol to eliminate rabies and creating an affordable test for HIV drug resistance in Botswana. DELTAS Africa I advanced the economic agenda by producing high value jobs reflected for example in the 2,011 undergraduate, master’s, PhD, postdoctoral and senior researchers trained of whom 50% were women. The first phase of the programme consortia increased Africa’s scientific quality and productivity by collectively producing 1,496 peer reviewed articles, competed successfully for additional grants worth $267m, and won 339 prizes for scientific excellence worth $9.1m. 

DELTAS Africa ll consortia at DELTAS Africa ll launch event in Nairobi 

DELTAS Africa II, which is now being implemented by the SFA Foundation, continues to invest and increase Africa’s research capacity by growing the number of science leaders producing quality scientific data and information for evidence-based decision making whilst strengthening the African R&D ecosystem.

“Wellcome is committed to funding ambitious and creative research across Africa that takes on some of the most pressing health challenges facing our world. We are very pleased to be working with the SFA Foundation and partners to support high-quality, world-leading research across Africa, developing the continent’s growing research and development sector,” said Cheryl Moore, Chief Research Programmes Officer at Wellcome.

“In addition to funding research, support from Wellcome and the UK government is directed towards the development of global standards for grant due diligence, research management, open access to science and enabling public participation in research. These components are an essential part of strengthening the wider research ecosystem to enable partner countries to deliver sustainable economic growth in line with national and UK priorities,” said Dr Jordan Kyongo, Research & Innovation Adviser, British High Commission, Nairobi

The full descriptions of the 14 consortia are here: 
DELTAS Africa ll Consortia

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Science For Africa Foundation.

Notes to Editor

Additional quotes

Abdoulaye Djimde, Mali, CAMES Professor of Parasitology and Mycology, Malaria Research and Training Centre at the University of Science, Techniques and Technologies, said: 

“This new DELTAS Africa II funding will allow our consortium to sharply increase the number of African experts in various aspects of antimicrobial resistance and contribute to bringing this silent killer to the forefront of African communities and health policy makers’ agendas.” 

Dixon Chibanda, Zimbabwe, Professor of Psychiatry & Global Mental Health and Director, Friendship Bench, said: 

“With this DELTAS Africa funding, we will be able to build on the success we achieved in the first phase of our mental health research consortia and also additionally focus on bringing together pockets of excellence in mental, neurological and substance misuse disorders across Africa for greater impact.” 

Adamu Addissie, Ethiopia, Associate Professor, Addis Ababa University, said: 

“The DELTAS Africa funding for our consortium is considered as a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a continental capacity for cancer care research in Africa. The opportunity will enable us to train and equip the next generation of African leaders in cancer care research.” 

Bruce Hewitson, South Africa, Director of the Climate System Analysis Group, University of Cape Town, said: 

“The DELTAS Africa funding is a critical enabler to advance our understanding and inform societies response about the critical question of how climate change creates a cascade of health risks in African cities. In the process, the funding has the additional benefits of deepening collaborative relationships and growing capacity through critical experiential learning, especially for our early career researchers. 

Catherine Kyobutungi, Kenya, Executive Director, African Population and Health Research Center, said: “CARTA2025 aims to partner with African universities to strengthen their capacity to produce early career researchers (ECR) who work in environments that support high-quality research, and who carry out world-class research to solve common health and development problems in Africa while also growing towards independence and research leadership in Africa. DELTAS Africa II means that we get to continue the work to strengthen African institutions to provide high-quality research training and research-conducive environments. We are excited to set in motion the new strategy of setting up CARTA research hubs. These will be centres of research excellence where the careers of African ECRs will be nurtured with an aim to impact society.”

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