NIH commits $36M to African Medical Initiatve

(CN) – The National Institutes of Health will award $36.5 million over the next five years to support the training of junior medical faculty in Sub-Saharan Africa.
     The region bears almost a quarter of the global disease burden, yet has only 3 percent of the world’s health workforce, according to the World Health Organization.
     The funding by the NIH is intended to bolster the Medical Education Partnership Initiative, an effort to strengthen the region’s medical school curricula, upgrade community-based training sites, and expand communications technology and e-learning resources.
     A portion of the funding has been set-aside to provide medical faculty with dedicated research time and other incentives designed to promote staff retention.
     “Research must play an integral part in generating sustainable, quality health care in sub-Saharan Africa, which is the ultimate goal,” said NIH Director Francis Collins in a written statement.
     “It is critical that we increase research capacity so Africans can carry out locally relevant investigations themselves, and develop the necessary expertise in areas such as bioethics, informatics, environmental science, and genomics. That will empower their participation in international collaborations,” Collins said.
     The initiative is an outgrowth of the White House’s “Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.” In addition to developing the human resources needed to diagnose and treat patients, the program helped enable evidence-based decision making to improve the effectiveness and impact of the U.S. investment. It is also intended to cultivate scientists who can determine the most efficient ways to expand the treatment platform built for HIV/AIDS to address other illnesses, including the chronic diseases that are a growing cause of disability and death in the region.
     “Many junior faculty in African institutions struggle to incorporate research into their careers. These new awards will support advanced training and provide dedicated time so they can conduct investigations that will lay the groundwork for fundable proposals,” said Dr. Roger Glass, director of the Fogarty International Center, part of NIH.
     “Through these training opportunities, African physicians and investigators can prepare themselves to become the next generation of African research leader,” Glass said.

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