Partnership to tackle African health challenges

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A ‘transformative partnership’ to support African investigators to tackle African health challenges in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for health, has been announced by the African Academy of Sciences, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The announcement was made in the German capital Berlin on 16 October, ‘at the 2018 Grand Challenges Annual Meeting that aims to builds momentum for global health and development innovation and foster scientific collaboration among international groups and researchers,’ the African Academy of Sciences (The AAS) said in a statement.

‘The partnership with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research represents another giant and solid step to catalyse breakthroughs from African innovators who understand best the local problems and can deliver home grown solutions for developmental and health challenges,’ said Felix Dakora, president of the AAS.

The AAS will implement the partnership through its Grand Challenges Africa programme, which promotes Africa-led innovations to help countries better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by awarding seed and scale-up grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions.

Grand Challenges Africa is one of more than 10 AAS programmes being implemented through the funding and agenda-setting platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, an initiative of the AAS and the African Union Development Agency (formerly NEPAD) supported by Wellcome, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Britain’s Department for International Development.

‘Successful innovations have significantly contributed to improving the health, lives and productivity of African citizens and transforming the societies they live in,’ says the AAS statement. ‘Several impressive innovations funded by The AAS are tackling maternal, neonatal and child health while simple innovations, such as school feeding programmes and provision of sanitary towels in Kenya and Uganda, are keeping girls in schools and transforming societies.’

Gates Foundation President Trevor Mundel said: ‘The Gates Foundation believes that African research scientists must be in the lead in developing the new tools required to tackle Africa’s greatest health challenges. We’re excited about this new partnership and its potential to deliver on that promise.’

This new AAS, Gates and German partnership enables Grand Challenges Africa to continue the ‘Call to Action’ and fund promising innovative projects across Africa addressing challenges. The partnership spurs innovation in health by leveraging each organisation’s unique assets to deliver a range of activities. These unique assets, the AAS says, are:

  • The AAS’ understanding of Africa’s developmental challenges along with the Academy’s capacity to develop and execute programmatic, scientific and financial management. The AAS will leverage this strength to develop a call for proposals, review applications and award and manage grants based on an independent scientific assessment and with strategic input from an executive committee comprising representatives from this partnership
  • The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s strategic priorities for partnership with Africa, including expanding and intensifying scientific cooperation in the thematic areas of health, societal development and innovation.
  • The Gates Foundation’s support of promising projects and its ability to bring together key global stakeholders (such as co-funding partners, global research communities, decision- and policy-makers) to establish relationships and promote the Grand Challenges agenda in a bid to solve global health and developmental challenges
  • The three partners provide a broad range of opportunities including a sustainable, high-quality scientific cooperation structure that strengthens international partnership, engagement with innovators, and financial support to promising innovations

‘The United Nations has set itself the goal of sustainable development by 2030 to ensure a healthy life for all people of all ages and in every country. In order to achieve this goal as a global community, investment in education, research, innovation and international cooperation is indispensable,’ said German Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek in her opening speech on 16 October in Berlin at the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting.

‘That is why we are strengthening research on global health. We will promote research projects in Africa and thus participate in the African Academy of Sciences ‘Grand Challenges Africa’ programme. Only specifically and together can health care be improved, diseases treated and epidemics prevented.’

The partners will announce a call for proposals on maternal, neonatal and child health in due course, The AAS said in its statement.

About The African Academy of Sciences

The African Academy of Sciences is a non-aligned, non-political, not-for-profit pan-African organisation. The AAS’s vision is to see lives in Africa transformed through science. Its tripartite mandate is: recognising excellence through highly prestigious AAS fellowship and award schemes; providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping Africa’s science, technology and innovation (STI) strategies and policies; and implementing key STI programmes addressing Africa’s developmental challenges through the agenda-setting and funding platform Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in science in Africa.

Join The AAS on:| Twitter @AASciences | and learn more at

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. Based in Seattle, the US foundation is led by CEO Dr Susan Desmond-Hellmann and co-chair William H Gates Sr, under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet.

Join Gates Foundation on:|| and learn more at

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research – Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung or BMBF – is a cabinet-level ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is headquartered in Bonn, with an office in Berlin. The Ministry provides funding for research projects and institutions aiming for research excellence and sets general educational policy.

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