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Open Access Correspondence

European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP): the path towards a true partnership

Mecky I Matee1*, Christine Manyando2, Peter M Ndumbe3, Tumani Corrah4, Walter G Jaoko5, Andrew Y Kitua6, Herman PA Ambene7, Mathieu Ndounga8, Lynn Zijenah9, David Ofori-Adjei10, Simon Agwale11, Steven Shongwe12, Thomas Nyirenda13 and Michael Makanga13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, P.O. Box 65001, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

2 Tropical Disease Reseach Centre, P.O. Box 71769, Ndola, Zambia

3 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, BP 63 Buea, Cameroon

4 Medical Research Council, Fajara, P.O. Box 273, Banjul, The Gambia

5 Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 19676 Nairobi, Kenya

6 National Institute for Medical Research, P.O. Box 9653, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

7 Organization de Coordination Pour la Lutte Contre Les Endemies en Afrique Centrale (OCEAC), BP 288, Yaoundé, Cameroon

8 Centre d' etudes sur resources vegetales, BP 1249, Brazzaville, Congo

9 Department of Immunology, University of Zimbabwe Medical School, P.O. Box A178 Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe

10 Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research College of Health Science, University of Ghana, P. O. Box LG 581 Accra, Ghana

11 Innovative Biotech, Abdu Abubakar Street GRA, P.O. Box 30 Keffi, Nasarawa State, Nigeria

12 WHO Regional Office for East, Central and Sourthen Africa, Arusha, Tanzania

13 EDCTP Africa Office, MRC P.O. Box 19070, Francie van Zyl Street Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:249  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-249

Published: 20 July 2009

Abstract

Background

European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) was founded in 2003 by the European Parliament and Council. It is a partnership of 14 European Union (EU) member states, Norway, Switzerland, and Developing Countries, formed to fund acceleration of new clinical trial interventions to fight the human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), malaria and tuberculosis (TB) in the sub-Saharan African region. EDCTP seeks to be synergistic with other funding bodies supporting research on these diseases.

Methods

EDCTP promotes collaborative research supported by multiple funding agencies and harnesses networking expertise across different African and European countries. EDCTP is different from other similar initiatives. The organisation of EDCTP blends important aspects of partnership that includes ownership, sustainability and responds to demand-driven research. The Developing Countries Coordinating Committee (DCCC); a team of independent scientists and representatives of regional health bodies from sub-Saharan Africa provides advice to the partnership. Thus EDCTP reflects a true partnership and the active involvement and contribution of these African scientists ensures joint ownership of the EDCTP programme with European counterparts.

Results

The following have been the major achievements of the EDCTP initiative since its formation in 2003; i) increase in the number of participating African countries from two to 26 in 2008 ii) the cumulative amount of funds spent on EDCTP projects has reached € 150 m, iii) the cumulative number of clinical trials approved has reached 40 and iv) there has been a significant increase number and diversity in capacity building activities.

Conclusion

While we recognise that EDCTP faced enormous challenges in its first few years of existence, the strong involvement of African scientists and its new initiatives such as unconditional funding to regional networks of excellence in sub-Saharan Africa is envisaged to lead to a sustainable programme. Current data shows that the number of projects supported by EDCTP is increasing. DCCC proposes that this success story of true partnership should be used as model by partners involved in the fight against other infectious diseases of public health importance in the region.