In June 2021, EDCTP’s High Representative for Africa, Dr Leonardo Simão, attended a high-level meeting to discuss a continental vision and strategy for the African Medicine Agency (AMA). The Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Emer Cooke, identified AVAREF as a model platform for collaboration between the AMA and the EMA. AUDA-NEPAD has organised a stakeholders meeting on the operationalisation of AMA that will take place in the first quarter of 2022. EDCTP looks forward to renewing its agreement with AUDA-NEPAD in 2022.
EDCTP has also had a long-standing relationship with the African Union Development Agency – New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD). During 2021, EDCTP continued to participate as a member of the AUDA-NEPAD African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Partnership Platform (AMRH-PP) and the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum (AVAREF) platform, and provides technical guidance to the six AMRH Technical Committees.
At the EDCTP Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) in May 2021, the AUDA-NEPAD Head of Health, Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda, acknowledged the value of EDCTP support for the strengthening of ethics and regulatory bodies in 27 African countries, and its contribution to the creation of AVAREF. She was also invited to speak at two further events organised by EDCTP in 2021, including the EDCTP Science Summit session held in association with the United National General Assembly in September 2021 (UNGA76) and the EDCTP session at the Science Forum South Africa 2021 in December 2021.
The memorandum of understanding will build on existing fruitful collaborations between EDCTP and Africa CDC. In 2021, successful applications to the joint EDCTP/Africa CDC capacity development scheme for disease outbreak and epidemic response were announced. The aim of this partnership is to establish an African cohort of epidemiologists and biostatisticians, as part of Africa CDC’s framework for public health workforce development, with ten grants supporting institutions in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe that provide master’s degree training in epidemiology and biostatistics.
In October 2021, the first eight ‘Epi-Biostat Fellows’ enrolled in their master’s training at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK. Ultimately, the programme will boost the capacity of national public health institutes, ministries of health and other institutions in Africa to conduct public health research and respond to disease emergencies.
EDCTP continued to be represented on the Steering Committee of the Africa CDC Consortium for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials (CONCVACT), set up to accelerate progress on COVID-19 vaccine trials in Africa. The initiative aims to provide support for and promote collaboration between vaccine developers and clinical trial sites on the African continent. There is significant overlap between EDCTP clinical trial sites and sites being considered by CONVACT.
EDCTP also continued to be represented in Africa CDC’s Africa Task Force for Novel Coronavirus (AFCOR), which was established to oversee preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has been preparing various guidelines for African countries. Outputs in 2021 included a policy paper on Research and Development Priorities for COVID-19 in Africa and the Adapted Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 Pandemic, which focused on prevention, monitoring and treatment of COVID-19.
Since June 2021, EDCTP has been a member of the Africa CDC Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), and has been contributing to policy statements and press releases as well as participating in an organising group for a COVID-19 conference. EDCTP was also a member of the organising committee for the First International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2021), organised by Africa CDC and the African Union on 14–16 December 2021.
The strengthening of cooperation between EDCTP and Africa CDC was emphasised by the Director of Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengasong, during his presentation at the European Commission’s Global Health Conference on 25 March 2021 on strengthening the EU contribution to global health.
In 2021, EDCTP signed a landmark memorandum of understanding with the African Union, to underpin collaborative efforts to address infectious disease with epidemic potential. This agreement will see the African Union – through the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) – and EDCTP cooperating on joint activities in key areas such as emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, epidemic intelligence, and capacity building for preparedness and outbreak response.
EDCTP has been strengthening its links with the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, including a major scheme to build epidemiology and biostatistics capacity in Africa to support pandemic preparedness and response.
Partnering with the African Union