Charting a new path: The PANTHER roared at the 11th EDCTP Forum
Published On: December 22, 2023
PANTHER’s team actively participated in the 11th EDCTP Forum held in Paris, France, from November 7th to 10th, 2023. The Forum, centered around the theme of “Partnering for Global Health Research Innovation and Impact in Africa – Celebrating EDCTP: two decades and beyond”, set a remarkable milestone with a record-breaking attendance of 1118 registrations and 960 in-person delegates from 64 countries.
Throughout the four-day event, delegates were immersed in a spirit of togetherness, determination, and commitment, aiming not only to address infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa but also to foster collaboration with their European counterparts.
Dr. Salim Abdulla
Several speakers emphasized that EDCTP has been a transformative force since its establishment two decades ago. The Covid-19 pandemic brought to light growing health inequities, marked by inequitable access to medical countermeasures. By channeling resources into collaborative research projects led by European-African consortia and nurturing a supportive environment for clinical research in sub-Saharan Africa, EDCTP has the potential to play a pivotal role in ensuring more equitable access to new medical interventions.
With the current global focus on pandemic preparedness and the World Health Assembly’s call for strengthening clinical trials capacity globally, Professor Michel Kazatchkine, Senior Fellow at the Global Health Centre, the Graduate Institute for International Affairs and Development in Switzerland, called for a complete shift in the intervention development paradigm that gives countries in sub-Saharan Africa more capacity to develop and produce the interventions they will need during the next health emergency.
Dr. Bernhards Ogutu
Central to the success of this model is the establishment of clinical trial networks able to support high-quality studies of interventions to be used in the region.
Aiming to establish a platform for rapid initiation of clinical studies in African countries in the event of a new pandemic, the creation of the PANdemic Preparedness PlaTform for Health and Emerging Infections’ Response (PANTHER) is a welcome development in that respect.
Chaired by Professor Francine Ntoumi (Republic of Congo), Board Member of PANTHER, as well as Executive Director of the CANTAM2 EDCTP Network of Excellence and Coordinator of the PANDORA-ID-NET pandemic preparedness network, our sponsored satellite symposium gave delegates an insight into our work.
Dr. Nathalie Strub Wourgaft
While Dr. Nathalie Strub Wourgaft, Delegate General of PANTHER, explained the importance of preparedness to ensure a swift and efficient response based on research during emergencies, Dr. Salim Abdulla, Clinical epidemiologist at Ifakara Health Institute (Tanzania), called for enhancing phase I trial capacity in Africa.
Dr. Bernhards Ogutu, another Board Member of PANTHER and Chief Research Officer at the Kenya Medical Research Institute – KEMRI (Kenya), suggested that the next pandemic could well be another respiratory disease. Preparedness is essential as the burden of flu is probably underestimated in Africa due to limited testing capacity.
Dr. Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda
Lastly, Dr. Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda, Advisor to AUDA-NEPAD (Ethiopia), explained how national, regional and global regulators could be better prepared to accelerate clinical evaluation and licensing in emergency situations. Praising existing initiatives involving Africa CDC, AVAREF and AUDA-NEPAD already working on building national regulatory capacity and strengthening cross-country collaboration, she also highlighted the pivotal role the new African Medicines Agency could play in the future.