Strengthening biostatistics resources in sub-Saharan Africa: research collaborations through U.S. partnerships.


On September 30, 2009, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted a workshop on strengthening biostatistics resources in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). An increase in global spending on health research over the last decade has boosted funds available to conduct biomedical research in low- to mid-income countries. The HIV/AIDS pandemic, the re-emergence of malaria and tuberculosis, and other emerging infectious agents are major driving forces behind the increase in biomedical research and clinical care programs (clinical trials, observational studies and, other public health programs) in SSA (Exp. Biol. Med. 2008; 233:277-285). In addition, the increased engagement of the United States (U.S.) government through the Global Health Initiative, which expands the traditional focus beyond infectious diseases to other causes of poor health and to the recognition of need the to strengthen health systems for a sustainable response, only increases the need for in-depth in-country expertise in all aspects of biomedical research (White House Press Release, 2009). In this workshop, researchers both from the U.S. and SSA were invited to discuss their collaborative work, to discuss ways in which biostatistical activities are carried out within their research projects, and to identify both general and specific needs for capacity building in biostatistics. Capacity building discussions highlighted the critical need to increase the number of well-trained in-country biostatisticians, both to participate in ongoing studies and to contribute to an infrastructure that can produce the next generation of biostatistical researchers.

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