The barometer survey results of the National Health Research Systems (NHRS) of the World Health Organisation African Region has been released.
It coincided with the high-level meeting of African Union policy-makers, strategic partners and African member states, under the auspices of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). It was a side event at the WHO-AFRO Regional Committee session in Dakar, Senegal.
It is to foster the development of functional NHRS that generates scientific knowledge for developing technical systems and services needed to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.
The barometer scores were knotted on governance for research, creating and sustaining resources, production and use of research and sustainable financing for research, which compared trends and progress of 2018 scores with that of 2014.
Dr Juliet Nabyonga, health systems and governance researcher of the WHO-AFRO, presenting the NHRS pilot surveys in the WHO African region, said the intent is to establish effective research for health (R4H) governance, build and sustain human, physical and institutional research capacities, strengthen the production and use of research to enhance performance of health at all levels.
“It is to activate mechanisms for sustainable financing and the ability to track investments and to fashion a blueprint to address the bottlenecks in NHRSs in the 17 African member associations.
The study said only five countries complied with spending at least two per cent of their health budgets on research.
The report on governance for research said 17 countries out of 39 still lagged behind, even though countries with legislation on R4H gained marginal increase of six per cent from the 2014 score of 60 per cent.
It noted ethical review committees with focus on improving functionality increased to 95 per cent in 2018 compared to 80 per cent score in 2014.
The barometer scores nations with health research promoting unit within ministries of health were stagnating at 59 per cent with nations with universities/colleges for training in health research increasing from 20 per cent to 90 per cent and nations with national health research institutions/councils rising from 40 per cent to 72 per cent within the period under review.
The number of countries performing above average, that is over 50 per cent rose to 22 per cent in the 2018 barometer scores compared to 16 per cent it garnered in 2014, against the African Regional average of 61 per cent for 2018 and 42 per cent for 2014.
Again, the number of countries with average performance remained the same for the 2018 and 2014 period while those countries which performed below average decreased to 16 per cent in 2018 compared to the 2014 score of 30 per cent.
Dr Michael Makanga, Executive Director of EDCTP said his entity has spent some 258 million Euros to fund projects for clinical trials and research spanning 2014-2024 in 16 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The €258 million research facility attracted funding for 140 clinical trials and research projects within the given period.
He gave the breakdown as the funding amount of € 217 million used to fund 35 large-scale clinical trials and clinical research activities conducted by the European-African consortia.
On capacity development, 28.47 million Euros was expended on 35 projects that strengthened the enabling environment for conducting clinical trials and clinical research.
Again, 12.25 million was invested in call and grants for 58 fellowships that focused on the career development of individual researchers.
Dr Makanga said € 88 million was channelled into TB, 64 million for HIV and HIV associated infections. Malaria received €32 m, neglected infections disease gets €25m, emerging diseases €24m and diarrhoeal disease and lower respiratory tract infections receiving a €4 million funding.
Cecile Tassin-Pelzer, Head of Cooperation of EU delegation, Senegal, said the EU and Africa partnerships are being consolidated for mutual benefits on each side and called for political support to actualize good governance styles and towards the adoption of NHRS.
She commended the EDCTP and other strategic partners and country teams for providing data and statistics to compile the scores and called for greater collaborations as the EU coughs up 683 million Euros from Horizon 2020.
Dr Prosper Tumusiime, a researcher on health systems and services, WHO-AFRO, chairing the event, said he is optimistic weaknesses in research capacity would be addressed through new systematic processes of generating new knowledge by using scientific methods and implored all to join resources to strengthen health systems and services.