DELTAS Annual Grantees Meeting
The second DELTAS Africa Annual Grantees Meeting was held at the Fiesta Royale Hotel in Accra from July 3-5, 2017. This meeting was co-hosted by the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) in the University of Ghana.
The DELTAS Africa Initiative is an independent funding scheme of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS)’s AESA, and supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD), with funding from the Wellcome Trust and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). DELTAS Africa is a health research leadership capacity building programme funded to the tune of over USD100Million. The DELTAS Africa lead institutions are geographically spread in West Africa (Senegal, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana), East Africa (Uganda, Kenya) and Southern Africa (Zimbabwe, South Africa), with more than 20 other African countries participating as partners or collaborating institutions. Over the next five years, the DELTAS Africa Initiative will be dedicated to the training of the next generation of African health research scientists and leaders on the continent, through collaborative supervision and mentorship at Internships, Masters, PhD, Post-Doctoral and Senior Research Fellows levels to address health challenges on the continent. In the two years since its implementation, DELTAS Africa has recruited close to 500 masters, PhD and postdoctoral fellows, half of whom are women. This throws more credence to the fact that women are active players in health research in the sub-region.
Group picture of WACCBIP-DELTAS postdoctoral fellows at the DELTAS meeting
This prestigious scientific meeting brought together all 11 DELTAS Africa Grantees and associated institutions. The meeting began with welcome remarks from the local host and Director of WACCBIP, Prof. Gordon Awandare, who stated that the University of Ghana/WACCBIP was selected to host the 2nd Annual DELTAS conference because of the pedigree of the University of Ghana as an example of an institution that is prioritizing research capacity building on the continent. The Executive Director of the AAS, Dr. Tom Kariuki gave his welcome remarks and stated that “We are proud of the progress so far. Through DELTAS Africa, we are contributing to increasing the population of African health researchers and women scientists and providing the infrastructure needed to do quality research to improve health outcomes and to retain our best young talent on the continent”. Dr. Simon Kay, the Head of International Operations and Partnerships at the Wellcome Trust, also gave his welcome remarks and reiterated the Trust’s support for health research in Africa. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu in his welcome remarks commended WACCBIP for their achievements so far and emphasizedthe University of Ghana’s commitment to supporting the Centre. The Deputy Minister of Health, Hon. Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu gave brief opening remarks and highlighted the Governments support of the Centre’s of Excellence projects in Ghana. The Honourable Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng in his opening remarks stated that “We are glad to be hosting some of Africa’s best minds in Ghana, which shows a commitment from our scientists to galvanise resources to solve our pressing health challenges”.He then gave a rousing keynote address on “My life Journey from Cardiovascular Miracles to Political Leadership”. He told a story of how he was inspired to build the National Cardiothoracic Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana with no support from the government and went ahead to perform the first open heart surgery in Ghana.He stated that he will ensure that a minimum 1% of GDP goes toward the establishment of a National Research Fund for research development in Ghana. He finally charged all fellows to do their best to make an impact in their respective communities, country and the African continent as a whole.
Prof Frimpong Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, delivering his keynote address
The second keynote address was delivered by a Nobel Laureate, Prof. Peter Agre of the Johns Hopkins University, MD, USA. Prof Agre won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2003 for his discovery of aquaporins (water channel proteins).
This meeting themed ‘Showcasing the best so far” allowed all DELTAS Africa programme Directors to give an update of their implementation so far.
Prof. Gordon Awandare, Director delivering his programme presentation
Some selected fellows also presented on their research work conducted so far. There was a special lecture from Prof. Agnes Bingwaho, former Minister of Health of Rwanda and the current Vice Chancellor of University of Global Public Health Equity. There were breakout sessions on science communication, financial management and Monitoring and Evaluation. The meeting also included poster and rapid fire presentation sessions from the Deltoids and fellows from the India Alliance.
Poster presentations by fellows at the meeting
Group picture of WACCBIP team at the DELTAS meeting