Merck unites with UNESCO to build research capacity in Africa

UNESCO-Merck Africa research summit aims to define interventions to prepare for the road ahead in Africa's development as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation

The inaugural Merck-UNESCO Africa Research Summit

Merck, in partnership with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), has launched the first edition of the UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit, which aims to address the vital role of scientific research in the improvement and sustainable development of the African population health, with a specific focus on how to translate knowledge into action.

‘Merck is very pleased to join forces with UNESCO and take an active role in addressing health challenges and strengthening the role of scientific research in life sciences and medical sciences for Africa,’ said Stefan Oschmann, Vice Chairman of the Executive Board and Deputy CEO of Merck. ‘The summit will bring together researchers from across Africa to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data, with the aim of identifying development opportunities that will contribute to building research capacity, accelerating access to innovative health solutions and sustaining innovation in Africa.’

‘The UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit was initiated to address the vital role of research in the improvement and sustainable development of population health, with a specific emphasis on how to translate knowledge into action — the know-do gap — to improve health,’ emphasised Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General of Natural Sciences, UNESCO.

‘Moreover, the summit will provide a platform for dialogue to improve global co-operation on life science and health research and narrow the disparities in health systems performance between developing and developed countries,’ she added.

Uganda Minister of State of Health, Sarah Opendi, stated: ‘New health challenges are expected in the future and, therefore, this noble initiative by UNESCO and Merck will significantly contribute towards enhancing policy and supporting and building research capacity in low and middle income countries.’ The summit will take place annually to ensure a significant sustainable impact on access to high-quality and innovative healthcare solutions, building research capacity and sustaining innovation across Africa.

The 2015 UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit will focus on the role of building capacities in the life sciences to address the challenges of infectious diseases, most notably the Ebola crises. Scientifically supported by UNESCO, the University of Cambridge (UK) and the University of Rome (Italy), the summit will be a valuable opportunity for young researchers who are engaged and interested in health and life science research in Africa to learn about the full spectrum of groundbreaking scientific research currently under way, and prepare for the road ahead in Africa's development as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation.

Abstracts were invited from final year African PhD students and young investigators involved in HIV, Ebola and other infectious disease research. All are primarily based at African research institutes and universities. All abstracts were peer reviewed by a scientific committee and will be eligible for a fellowship award. Further research awards will be announced at the end of the summit.

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