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Investing in health R&D: where we are, what limits us, and how to make progress in Africa

Simpkin, Victoria, Namubiru-Mwaura, Evelyn, Clarke, Lorcan and Mossialos, Elias (2019) Investing in health R&D: where we are, what limits us, and how to make progress in Africa. BMJ Global Health, 4 (2). ISSN 2059-7908

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Identification Number: 10.1136/bmjgh-2018-001047

Abstract

Global research and development (R&D) pipelines for diseases that disproportionately affect African countries appear to be inadequate, with governments struggling to prioritise investment in R&D. This article provides insights into the sources of investment in health science research, available research capacity and level of research output in Africa. The African region comprises 15% of the world's population, yet only accounted for 1.1% of global investments in R&D in 2016. There were substantial disparities within the continent, with Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa contributing 65.7% of the total R&D spending. In most countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the largest source of R&D funding is the private sector. R&D in Africa is mainly funded by the public sector, with significant proportions of financing in many countries coming from international funding. Challenges that limit private sector investment include unstable political environments, poor governance and corruption. Evidence suggests various research output and research capacity limitations in Africa when considering a global context. Metrics that reflect this include university rankings, number of researchers, number of publications, clinical trials networks and pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. Within the continent there are substantial regional disparities. Incentivising investment is crucial to foster current and future research output and research capacity. This paper outlines some of the many commendable initiatives under way. Innovative and collaborative financing mechanisms can stimulate further investment. Given the vast inequalities across Africa in R&D, strategies need to reflect the different capacities of countries to address this disparity.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 The Authors
Divisions: Health Policy
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2019 14:51
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2019 01:52
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/100311

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