Policymakers, researchers, NEPAD join hands with COHRED to spur research and innovation for health in Africa…

Categories:Director's Corner

The first ever cross-country and advisor meetings for the Research for Health Africa (R4HA)  initiative on the strengthening of national governance of research and innovation for health in Africa were recently held in Midrand, South Africa from 17-19, October, 2011. At the meetings, representatives of the health and science and technology sectors of three African countries – Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania called for increased shared learning, capacity strengthening and more focus on the regional dimensions of R4HA.

The R4HA meeting was opened by statements from Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency), Estherine Fotabong, Director, Programme Implementation and Coordination, NEPAD Agency and Carel IJsselmuiden, Director of the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) Group.

In their remarks, the speakers set the context for R4HA within the broader long-term development goals for strengthening research and innovation not only in the countries involved in this initiative, but also across the entire African continent.

Country representatives delivered presentations on the state of research for health and innovation in the three countries. They shared strategies and strengths and opportunities for growth. They also identified ways in which R4HA can support the countries (see Box 1).

Discussions were also held around a number of key relevant topics. These included:

  1. The move towards sustainable centres of excellence;
  2. How to learn from countries and share the lessons learned with other countries;
  3. The need to train research managers and administrators;
  4. Research ethics review process – how to address contentious issues;
  5. Defining who should be part of the discussion for establishing research priorities and developing a national research agenda;
  6. Thinking beyond health research to research and innovation for health.


Dr. Gwen Ramokgopa, Deputy Minister of Health, South Africa and Khanyisa H. Nevhutalu, Director-Health Research at South Africa’s National Department of Health also joined the meeting. The Deputy Minister expressed interest in joining the R4HA initiative.

The meeting was concluded with a discussion on how R4HA can contribute to Forum 2012, (www.forum2012.org) to be held April 24-26, 2012, in Cape Town, South Africa; and the signing of Agreements between the NEPAD Agency, COHRED and officials from Mozambique, Senegal and Tanzania.

National research systems are the requirements for countries to begin to take charge of research, science and innovation within their own borders. The R4HA initiative is a partner to countries and can easily be expanded at low costs. Feel free to contact the team at COHRED (cohred@cohred.org) or (douglas@cohred.org).

The R4HA initiative – which is implemented jointly by the NEPAD Agency and COHRED, started in May 2010 with financial support from the Government of the Netherlands.


Box 1:  How R4HA can support the countries


  • Priority setting and defining the national research agenda;
  • Building expertise for research;
  • Supporting/advocating for public domestic funding;
  • Providing support for training college students research skills, proposal and publication writing, and data analysis.



  • Support for setting up a National Council on Research for Health (CNRS) for better coordination for health research, as well as between health and other sectors;
  • Learn from CNRS and explore options for the CNRS to serve as a model for other sectors;
  • Strengthening the on-line research management information system based on Health Research Web (HRWeb);
  • Improving communication between sectors.



  • Priority setting to aid in the development of a transparent national research agenda;
  • Developing an on-line research management information system, including call for proposals and proposal submission system;
  • Developing an on-line research ethics system;
  • Support for monitoring and evaluation of research investments.














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