Research Networks for Health Innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa

Five German-African networks are fostering the scientific cooperation in health research between Germany and the African continent. The networks are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for five years (2016 – 2021) with up to € 50 million.

This initiative unites researchers from 26 African institutions in 14 countries as well as 10 German partners. Led by African coordinators, the five networks conduct research on high-burden diseases in Africa to ultimately enhance clinical and laboratory practices. The majority of projects are dedicated to research on poverty-related and neglected infectious diseases with high relevance for the African continent, such as tuberculosis and parasitic diseases. Non-communicable diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, which are rapidly increasing in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as injuries from accidents, are also addressed.

By expanding clinical and laboratory capacities in the African partner countries, new career opportunities will emerge for researchers as well as medical personnel. This, in turn will help to strengthen Africa’s health systems.

Read about the individual networks in the following:

ANDEMIA - African Network for Improved Diagnostics, Epidemiology and Management of Common Infectious Agents

Especially children in Sub-Saharan Africa are affected by respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal infections, as well as fevers of unknown origin and infections with multi-resistant pathogens. Taking into account the high burden such diseases pose, little has been done so far by international donors and local health authorities to cope with these health issues. The ANDEMIA network is tackling these diseases transnationally. By gathering valuable data in hospitals across various African partner countries, the consortium intends to illuminate these health problems and enable the introduction of effective countermeasures. This includes the development of improved treatments, the control of disease outbreaks, as well as appropriate hygiene management. New insights into pathogen reservoirs and the dynamics of how they spread are equally important for epidemic preparedness in the case of disease outbreaks.

Further information:

CEBHA+ - Collaboration for Evidence-Based Healthcare and Public Health in Africa

Infectious diseases like AIDS and malaria are no longer the predominant health concerns of Sub-Saharan Africa. Instead, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes as well as injuries from accidents are on the rise, causing an equal burden. The situation is aggravated by a lack of well-trained medical staff, weak healthcare infrastructures and therefore limited capacities to deal with this rising double burden.

The German-African CEBHA+ network intends to establish sustainable capacities and infrastructures for both preventive and curative health care in Sub-Saharan Africa. CEBHA+ strengthens African research institutions by creating awareness about the need to collect useful data and translate this scientific evidence into clinical practice. National or international CEBHA+ centers of excellence provide guidance and assistance for health care institutions.

Further information:

CYSTINET-Africa - Cysticercosis Network of Sub-Saharan Africa

The pork tapeworm is an intestinal parasite and infects humans as well as animals. Tapeworm eggs or larvae are ingested through undercooked meat and faecal contamination of the soil, infecting water as well as vegetables and fruit. Once hatched, the larvae move through the body forming cysts, which cause chronic pain and, if located in the brain, even blindness or epilepsy. This preventable condition is called cysticercosis or neurocysticercosis. Millions of people suffer from this poverty-related and neglected tropical disease in Sub-Saharan Africa.

CYSTINET-Africa aims to eradicate cysticercosis by preventing pork-tapeworm infections. New treatments are being tested for this purpose. Through the provision and distribution of information material, public awareness about this disease shall be created and individuals will be informed about how to prevent it.

Further information:

Twitter: @CYSTINET_Africa

TAKeOFF - Tackling the Obstacles to Fight Filariasis

More than 200 million people worldwide are currently infected with filariasis, a neglected tropical disease, mostly prevalent in Africa and Asia. Severe cases can cause lymphatic filariasis, leading to a swelling of limbs and can culminate in a condition often referred to as elephantiasis. The disease is associated with severe pain, physical impairment and mental distress.

TAKeOFF is developing a platform addressing the science behind filarial and non-filarial elephantiasis and patient care. The goal of the platform is to ease and harmonize the procedures for clinical trials on filariasis. Trainings and the support of local medical staff is another endeavor of this network.

Further information:

TB Sequel - Co-morbidities, risk factors and long-term pulmonary sequelae defining the individual outcome and public health impact of tuberculosis disease

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases with up to 1.8 million deaths per year, according to figures reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015. TB causes a high burden especially in low and middle income countries. The most common type, pulmonary tuberculosis, requires a lengthy treatment and is often followed by strong and undesired side-effects. Up to 50 percent of successfully treated patients are also subsequently affected by chronic long-term sequelae such as moderate or severe lung impairment.

The TB Sequel network investigates associated diseases, risk factors and long-term complications of TB and its health impact on populations in Sub-Saharan Africa. A cohort of up to 1600 patients affected by TB is being monitored and followed up for at least two years. In so doing, the long-term clinical consequences can be described and analyzed, ultimately leading to enhanced treatment outcomes and paving the way for future research.

Further information:

Twitter: @TBSequel