Fourteen researchers from eight African countries have been identified as the fourth cohort of the African Researchers' Small Grants Program (SGP IV). The awardees were announced at the first-ever virtual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD).
"The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 calls for the elimination of neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, by 2030, said John Amuasi, Executive Director of the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD). "However, the involvement of African entities in science, research and advocacy has been rather limited due to a paucity of research experts, policy makers and implementers in the region."
The African Researchers' Small Grants Program aims to address that gap by investing directly in promising scientists in Africa. ARNTD facilitates the program through COR-NTD, with funding from USAID and UK Aid.
"We are proud of our partnership with ARNTD," said Patrick Lammie, director of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center, which serves as COR-NTD Secretariat. "This important initiative helps to build research capacity on the African continent."
In addition to that capacity building, the objectives of the Small Grants Program are to increase African involvement and visibility in NTD operational research, improve South-South communication and collaboration among researchers, policymakers and implementers, and promote engagement between researchers and their control programs, and improve local ownership of initiatives and activities.
"To increase African involvement and visibility in the NTD operational research space – including the direct involvement with NTD programs – we have established four pillars of investment for the Small Grants Program," said Joseph Shott, Health Scientist in the Division of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Global Health Bureau, USAID. "Not including this year's awardees, there have been a total of 37 grants awarded, and we're very excited to support this year's class."
Following a call for proposals in July 2020, ARNTD received 354 applications for SGP IV. The Small Grants Program – launched in 2017 with support from the USAID and expanded in 2019 with support from UK Aid – continues to be competitive among African researchers, resulting in high-quality projects supported through the grants.
"It's a great honor to congratulate the awardees and winners of the Small Grants Program that we are funding, together with USAID," said Dirk Mueller, Senior Health Adviser in the Health Research Team of the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), which distributes UK Aid.
The selected researchers and their projects are:
The African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD) is an Africa-based network that does not exclusively focus on a single NTD or theme and is composed of individuals from a variety of disciplines across health, social, and management sciences, including policymakers.
For over 50 years, USAID’s global health programs have saved lives, protected people most vulnerable to disease, and promoted the stability of communities and nations, while advancing American security and prosperity. America is safer and stronger when people can live healthy and productive lives and when nations around the world are self-reliant and resilient.
The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty. FCDO tackles the global challenges of our time including poverty and disease, mass migration, insecurity and conflict. This work is building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK too.
The Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) includes researchers, program implementers, and their supporters with the shared goal of optimizing the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases. The COR-NTD secretariat is the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center, a program at The Task Force for Global Health in Decatur, GA, USA.