Bassirou Diarra’s view of the Future of Biomedical Research in Africa
The end of an era which ushered in the first independence from its colonial masters also signaled the gradual beginning of biomedical and indeed other research in many resource-limited settings in Africa. Several reasons accounted for research institutions springing up in the Africa region. Of particular interest was the fact that the region is home to a number of tropical diseases, with often an overwhelmed health care system. Although there are varieties of infectious diseases as well as other health-related problems, these problems constitute an excellent source for research and offer competitive advantage for creative solutions. For instance, it was and still is easier to choose a topic to pursue, and with careful planning access to study participants is not difficult. Therefore the environment has been conducive to ‘fish’ for a coherent story about a chosen topic and in so doing broaden one’s knowledge of the causes and modes of transmission of many diseases. It is worthy of mention too that, the opportunity is created to attract collaborators as well as identify groups that share one’s interest or who perform activities that are useful for research in Africa. Judging first by improvement in quality of life and secondly by the numerous reports that are continually generated from the various investigations in the region, it is fair to say that early and current research in this region has been very successful. What does this mean to the future of research in the region? Though there are still difficulties, many laboratories, clinical trials sites and advanced equipment for performing cutting edge research, as well as funding from a variety of sources are pouring into the region. With strong commitment, local funding is also made available to help the youth build a career in science. To sustain rather than weaken the enthusiasm there is a need to collectively seek alternative creative approaches to solving some of the rudimentary problems (power cuts, slow internet service, minimal or lack of resources for maintaining equipment) that face research in Africa.