Public Release: 

South African Ministers open African office of Clinical Trials Partnership

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Cape Town, South Africa - On 26th July 2004, the South African Minister of Health, Dr. Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang and Minister of Science & Technology, Mr. Mosibudi Mangena officially opened the African office of the European Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Secretariat in Cape Town. The establishment of this office paves the way towards building long-term health research capacities in African countries.

European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) executive director Dr Piero Olliaro: "The institution of the African office is a clear signal from the EDCTP of its enduring commitment to partner with African institutions and its aim towards transferring empowerment and technology know-how to the African people. With strategic partnerships and support, Africa can fight back against these poverty related diseases." High Representative Dr Pascoal Mocumbi re-emphasized Dr Olliaro's sentiment by saying "I call for a united and coordinated action to wage a worldwide war against the economic and social ravages of communicable diseases, particularly in Africa."

The EDTCP is a programme that aims to boost Africa's medical research capacity and to conduct clinical trials to accelerate the evaluation and development of therapeutic and preventative interventions for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The announcement by Dr Olliaro of the first projects that this Partnership intends to fund is an example of positive spin-offs for Africa's research institutions.

South Africa's Minister of Health Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said "In our quest to improving health and contributing to the development of a healthy nation we recognize that strengthening our health system and ensuring that an environment is created that enables research capacity is crucial. Through initiatives such as the EDCTP we aim to strengthen our evidence based practice of health care management and health provision."

According to South Africa's Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, the location of the EDCTP Office in Cape Town, will further cement the existing strong science and technology partnership between South Africa and the European Union. He said "The EDCTP will play an invaluable part in supporting mutually beneficial North-South collaboration to generate new knowledge for sustainable development and combating the scourges of disease in Africa, as well as promoting South-South collaboration."

The EDCTP is a response to the appeal of African leaders contained in Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and fits squarely in the NEPAD principles and objectives. This new Partnership aims to bring together African and European researchers to build clinical trial capacity to test the necessary interventions - drugs, vaccines and microbicides - to give Africa the tools to treat those who are sick and prevent the further spread of these diseases. The African office will represent the EDCTP in Africa and provide executive, administrative and promotional support for the EDCTP programme.

Acting President of the SA MRC, Prof. Emeritus W. Pick said that "It is a great honour for South Africa and the MRC. We are particularly pleased as the decision of the Assembly reinforces the MRC's position as a leader in health research."

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About EDCTP

The EDCTP is a long-term partnership of Europe and Developing Countries to accelerate the clinical development of better and more adapted therapeutics and prophylactics for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and to build/strengthen research capacity in countries in which these diseases are health priorities. The EDCTP builds upon existing programmes and efforts, especially those of its stakeholders, and brokers partnerships and resources with the public, private not-for-profit and for-profit sectors. 14 EU Member States plus Norway established the EDCTP in 2003 linked in with the developing countries as a genuine and sustained partnership.

About MRC

The SA Medical Research Council (MRC) is a well-established statutory research body in sub-Saharan Africa. Established in 1969 by an Act of Parliament, the MRC has since worked very hard to earn its place as one of Africa's top science councils. The MRC's mission is to improve the health and quality of life of South Africans through relevant and excellent health research aimed at promoting equity and development.

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