Wednesday, 8th August 2018, saw SANTHE Programme Director, Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, presenting at the second AFREhealth Symposium in Durban, South Africa.
Presenting during a session entitled, “Building Health Research Capacity in Africa for UHC,” he gave an engaging account of how SANTHE is contributing to the dire need for research capacity building in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Despite having the highest burden of infectious diseases, Africa still suffers from low research capacity,” he said. “This is a result of a number of factors including: a critical shortage of well-trained and skilled researchers, generally poor research infrastructure, and a lack of a critical mass at research sites. For example, the lack of sufficiently well-trained academics to act as supervisors, limits the number and quality of PhD production. And, there are numerous other challenges such as: mobilising the support of senior authorities for sustainable research career pathways, strengthening professional practices in African institutions (i.e. research governance, management and administration), improving physical and communications infrastructures and available equipment, brain-drain, access to journals, and lack of established scientific higher-degree training at African universities. Capacity building is therefore vital and excellence in science will only grow on the African continent if there is continuous intellectual and financial investment.”
Ndung’u’s presentation fit the overarching theme of the symposium perfectly: “Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa - Creating Synergies and Capacity through Education, Research and Quality Health Services.”