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Open Access Research article

EDCTP regional networks of excellence: initial merits for planned clinical trials in Africa

George M Miiro1*, Odile Ouwe Missi Oukem-Boyer25, Ousmane Sarr3, Maerangis Rahmani4, Francine Ntoumi26, Keertan Dheda4, Alexander Pym4, Souleymane Mboup3, Pontiano Kaleebu1 and On behalf of the NoEs’ programme

Author Affiliations

1 EACCR: The East African Consortium for Clinical Research, Uganda Virus Research Institute, Plot 51-59 Nakiwogo, Entebbe, Uganda

2 CANTAM: The Central African Network for Tuberculosis HIV/AIDS and Malaria, Fondation Congolaise pour la Recherche Médicale, University Marien Ngouabi, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

3 WANETAM: The West Africa Network of Excellence for TB, AIDS and Malaria Laboratoire de Bacteriologie-virologie CHU Aristide Le Dantec, Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal

4 TESA: The Trials of Excellence for Southern Africa, Medical Research Council South Africa- TB Research Unit: Clinical and Biomedical, Durban, South Africa

5 Centre de Recherche Médicale et Sanitaire (CERMES), Niamey, Niger

6 The Institute for Tropical Medicine, University of Tubingen, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:258  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-258

Published: 22 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and combating hotspots with escalating but preventable communicable diseases remain major challenges in Africa. The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) intervened to combat poverty-related diseases including malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, and to conduct multi-centre clinical trials and multi-disciplinary health research through an innovative model of regional Networks of Excellence (NoEs).

Methods

We participated in a quasi-formative evaluation between October and December 2011 on the 4 regional-led research networks. These included the: Central Africa Network on Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Malaria (CANTAM); East African Consortium for Clinical Research (EACCR); West African Network of Excellence for TB, AIDS and Malaria (WANETAM), and the Trials of Excellence for Southern Africa (TESA) launched between 2009 and 2010. We shared a participatory appraisal of field reports, progress reports and presentations from each network to jointly outline the initial experiences of the merits, outputs and lessons learnt.

Results

The self-regulating democratic networks, with 64 institutions in 21 African countries, have trained over 1, 000 African scientists, upgraded 36 sites for clinical trials, leveraged additional € 24 million and generated 38 peer-reviewed publications through networking and partnerships.

Conclusions

The shared initial merits and lessons learnt portray in part the strengthened capacity of these networks for improved research coordination and conduct of planned multi-center clinical trials in Africa. Increased funding by African agencies, governments and international health partners will ensure sustainability of these networks for research capacity development and demonstrate their commitment to achieving the MDGs in Africa.

Keywords:
Regional networks; Health; Clinical trials; Research; Capacity-building; Africa