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Building Sustainable Local Capacity for Global Health Research in West Africa

Authors:

Nadia A. Sam-Agudu ,

Institute of Human Virology and Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; International Research Center of Excellence, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria Department of Paediatrics, University of Cape Coast School of Medical Sciences, Cape Coast, Ghana
About Nadia A.
MD, CTropMed
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Elijah Paintsil,

Department of Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
About Elijah
MD
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Muktar H. Aliyu,

Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, Nashville, TN; Department of Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
About Muktar H.
MD, MPH, DrPH
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Awewura Kwara,

Department of Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL
About Awewura
MBChB, MPH&TM
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Folasade Ogunsola,

Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria
About Folasade
MBCHB, PhD
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Yaw A. Afrane,

Department of Medical Microbiology, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
About Yaw A.
PhD
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Chima Onoka,

Department of Community Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
About Chima
MBBS, MPH, PhD
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Gordon A. Awandare,

West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens, Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
About Gordon A.
PhD
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Gladys Amponsah,

School of Anaesthesia, Ridge Regional Hospital, Accra, Ghana
About Gladys
MBCHB
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Llewellyn J. Cornelius,

School of Social Work, University of Georgia Athens, Athens, GA
About Llewellyn J.
PhD
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Gabou Mendy,

Healing Healthcare, New Orleans, LA
About Gabou
MD, MPH&TM
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Rachel Sturke,

Division of International Policy, Planning, and Evaluation and Center for Global Health Studies, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
About Rachel
PhD, MPH, MIA
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Anita Ghansah,

Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Legon, Ghana
About Anita
PhD
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George K. Siberry,

Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, Washington, DC
About George K.
MD, MPH
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Echezona E. Ezeanolue

School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV; College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
About Echezona E.
MBBS, MPH
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Abstract

Background

Global health research in resource-limited countries has been largely sponsored and led by foreign institutions. Thus, these countries’ training capacity and productivity in global health research is limited. Local participation at all levels of global health knowledge generation promotes equitable access to evidence-based solutions. Additionally, leadership inclusive of competent local professionals promotes best outcomes for local contextualization and implementation of successful global health solutions. Among the sub-Saharan African regions, West Africa in particular lags in research infrastructure, productivity, and impact in global health research.

Objective

In this paper, experts discuss strategies for scaling up West Africa’s participation in global health evidence generation using examples from Ghana and Nigeria.

Methods

We conducted an online and professional network search to identify grants awarded for global health research and research education in Ghana and Nigeria. Principal investigators, global health educators, and representatives of funding institutions were invited to add their knowledge and expertise with regard to strengthening research capacity in West Africa.

Findings

While there has been some progress in obtaining foreign funding, foreign institutions still dominate local research. Local research funding opportunities in the 2 countries were found to be insufficient, disjointed, poorly sustained, and inadequately publicized, indicating weak infrastructure. As a result, research training programs produce graduates who ultimately fail to launch independent investigator careers because of lack of mentoring and poor infrastructural support.

Conclusions

Research funding and training opportunities in Ghana and Nigeria remain inadequate.

Recommendations

We recommend systems-level changes in mentoring, collaboration, and funding to drive the global health research agenda in these countries. Additionally, research training programs should be evaluated not only by numbers of individuals graduated but also by numbers of independent investigators and grants funded. Through equitable collaborations, infrastructure, and mentoring, West Africa can match the rest of Africa in impactful global health research.
How to Cite: Sam-Agudu, N.A., Paintsil, E., Aliyu, M.H., Kwara, A., Ogunsola, F., Afrane, Y.A., Onoka, C., Awandare, G.A., Amponsah, G., Cornelius, L.J., Mendy, G., Sturke, R., Ghansah, A., Siberry, G.K. and Ezeanolue, E.E., 2017. Building Sustainable Local Capacity for Global Health Research in West Africa. Annals of Global Health, 82(6), pp.1010–1025. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.aogh.2016.10.011
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Published on 15 Mar 2017.
Peer Reviewed

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