Strengthening research capacity

New MCDC film launched at the MIM 2013 Gala Dinner

10 October 2013

A new film was launched at last night's MIM 2013 Gala Dinner highlighting the importance of developing malaria research capacity.Featuring interviews with international scientific leaders, the film provides an overview of the work of the Malaria Capacity Development Consortium (MCDC) in each of its five African partner institutions, addresses some of the challenges faced and uses improving research capacity in malaria in Africa as a model to drive change. The work of the consortium is framed within the wider context of the challenges faced by the malaria community and other capacity strengthening programmes.

During the past decade, malaria has attracted the world’s attention once again and malaria control now receives about ten times more funding than was the case previously. A large part of these funds have been spent on the provision of the tools needed for effective malaria control such as artemisinin combination therapy, insecticide treated bed nets and indoor residual spraying. Support for the training of staff with the requisite skills needed to run these large and complex control programmes has been relatively neglected until recently.

In addition, it is recognised increasingly that effective public health programmes need to be underpinned by sound research. Despite the best efforts of organisations such as the World Health Organization, the MIM, and the Wellcome Trust’s African Institutions Initiative over several decades, there are still too few African scientists to support these expanding malaria control programmes. This will become more important as these programmes become technically more demanding and their focus moves from control towards local and regional elimination programmes.

Professor Tumani Corrah, Director of the MRC Unit in the Gambia, said: “If you look at malaria experts worldwide ten years ago, even five years ago you’ll be able to identify very few African leaders and there was very little chance of seeing a significant number showing up as potential strong leaders.  What MCDC has managed to achieve is to produce very strong African candidates who carry the hallmark of leading their own science in the near future.”

Professor Wilfred Mbacham, Executive Director of the MIM Secretariat, said: “Capacity building is the only way to sustain the gains being made in malaria control.”

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