Brussels, 28 Jul 2004
The South African Ministers for Health and for Science and Technology officially opened the African office of the European and developing countries clinical trials partnership (EDCTP) secretariat on 26 July, saying that the move would cement collaboration in the fight against communicable diseases.
By creating partnerships between the EU and developing countries, the EDCTP aims to improve medical research capacity in the developing world, and establish clinical trials to speed the development of therapeutic and preventative interventions for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
The South African Minister for Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, declared that: 'Today we are indeed marking an important milestone in the global compact to fight the deadliest medical scourges of our time, HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, which continue to plague millions of people, especially in the developing world.'
'There is no doubt that this funding initiative to support the implementation of the EDCTP by the European Commission and Member States will provide a significant financial impetus for the fight against poverty and disease,' Mr Mangena continued. However, he added that the funding provided through the EDCTP alone would not be enough, and called for further partnerships to be created between governments, the private sector in general, and the pharmaceutical industry in particular.
Mr Mangena pointed out that the financial contribution offered by the partnership was not the only cause for celebration, saying: 'I fully appreciate the impact the EDCTP will have for the research and development of scientific knowledge and policy in this continent. The location of an Office of the Secretariat in Africa will significantly facilitate the EDCTP's delivery of science-based advice, and will have far-reaching implications for the implementation of our respective national, regional and continental programmes to fight these diseases.'
South Africa's Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, added: 'In our quest to improving health and contributing to the development of a healthy nation we recognise that strengthening our health system and ensuring that an environment is created that enables research capacity is crucial.'
Piero Olliaro, the EDCTP executive director, described the opening of the African office as a clear signal from the partnership of its commitment to partner with African institutions and transfer technology and know how to the African people.
Dr Olliaro also revealed details of the first projects that the EDCTP intends to fund. A partnership between institutes in Denmark, Madagascar, South Africa, Ethiopia, Senegal, Tanzania, Gambia and Uganda will address the tuberculosis epidemic, while collaboration between institutes from Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and Zambia will focus on HIV/AIDS. A third initiative to address the malaria epidemic will also be established.
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