Published: August 6th 2020

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Public Health

Event Summary - 'Doing More With Less: The African Example'

Published: August 6th 2020

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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Introduction

On Wednesday 5th August, we hosted the third and final event in the COVID-19 Research Alliance series, delivered in collaboration with Medixus. It’s been a fantastic series. Over the course of three events we had more than 150 webinar participants from more than 30 countries, over 500 live stream viewers, and we’ve benefitted from the insights of 14 expert speakers from across Africa and around the world. The five speakers at this event included:

Jackson Musembi - Epidemiologist and Technical Lead, Prime Health Consulting (Kenya)

Dr. Kalifa Bojang - Clinical Research Lead, Medical Research Council Unit (The Gambia)

Dr. Pauline Essah - Senior Manager, National Institute for Health Research (UK)

Prof. Christian Happi - Professor, Redeemer University & Director, African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) (Nigeria)

Prof. Kelly Chibale - Professor, University of Cape Town & Director, H3D Research Centre (South Africa)

Event Overview

Our first speaker, Jackson Musembi, provided a very insightful overview of the current situation on the ground in Africa. He was also able to draw on his experience and expertise in working to combat other infectious diseases in Africa, most recently Ebola in the DRC, to outline the key parameters in predictive epidemiology models.

Next up we heard from Dr. Bojang, who, as an infectious disease specialist with more than 28 years of experience in the field, spoke knowledgeable about the different risk factors seen on the continent and how these may play out in the near future.

Dr Pauline Essah spoke next, drawing attention to the united front adopted by many African Union member states in the early stages of the pandemic and the positive impact this has had so far. She also highlighted the significance of the early development of a strategic research plan, led by organisations such as the African Academy of Science (AAS), the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and the African CDC. This has helped to streamline research priorities, as well as COVID-19-related research funding.

Next we heard from one of Africa’s most eminent scientists, Prof. Christian Happi, who talked about the revolutionising impact of genomics on health research. Prof. Happi provided a fascinating overview of how he and his team are using technologies and techniques honed in the fight against other diseases, including Ebola and Lasser fever, and redeploying them to help tackle the COVID-19 crisis, notably in the creation of a rapid diagnostic tool.

And finally, we were fortunate to hear from another of Africa’s most respected scientists, Prof. Kelly Chibale, who spoke about the need to shift the centre of gravity towards the continent and the opportunity provided by the pandemic for Africa to provide scientific leadership. He highlighted that achieving this will require addressing the historic, inherent challenges around scientific infrastructure, as well as the need to develop a critical mass of talent on the continent who can contribute meaningfully to global collaborative research projects.

A full recording of the event is available on the event page and the speaker presentations can be viewed here:

Jack Musembi - view presentation here

Dr. Kalifa Bojang - view presentation here

Dr. Pauline Essah - view presentation here

Prof. Christian Happi - view presentation here

Prof. Kelly Chibale - no presentation

Previous Events

This was the final event in the COVID-19 Research Alliance series. Links to the recordings of the two previous events can be seen below:

Event 1 - ‘Comorbidities and COVID-19: The Double Disease Burden in Africa’

Event 2 - ‘One Size Fits All? Incorporating Social Sciences in Holistic Approaches to Tackling COViD-19’