The Italian health research in partnership with Africa: a survey on the ongoing projects. Opuscolo allegato al n. 3, volume 34, 2021 (in inglese)
In 2020 the RicercaItaliaAfrica Initiative of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italian National Institute of Health ISS), launched a survey consulting about a hundred Italian researchers with records of collaborations with African partners to obtain a first map of Italy-Africa collaborative health research. The survey collected information on 39 ongoing project involving basic/preclinical, clinical and operational research, mainly on infectious diseases and to a lesser extent on health systems and non-communicable diseases, in many cases focused on child and maternal health. The project participants, working in different types of Italian public, no profit and private organizations, established partnerships with over 70 African institutions in Northern and
Sub-Saharan Africa in projects where they act as coordinators, partners or third parties. Total budget available to the 39 projects is approximately €50 M, of which about €30 M directly supporting activities of Italian beneficiaries. This budget is largely provided by privates, Foundations and Product Development Partnerships (PDPs). The European Commission is the largest public funder, contributing 15% of the total budget, and the Italian public agencies contribute altogether for 4% of the total budget of the national collaborative health research. The survey does not cover all Italy-Africa collaborative health research. A few projects are not recorded in this publication, funded by The Europe & Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP) or by the 5% Global Fund Initiative of the Italian Agency of Cooperation for Development (AICS). Some research activities are also conducted under academic high education collaborative schemes or within projects run by Italian civil society organisations. The missing information, however, does not significantly, quantitatively or qualitatively, modify the survey conclusions. This analysis reveals a very different landscape of the Italian collaborative research with Africa, in terms of the nature of the involved organizations and institutions as well as in the type and size of research activities. Motives of concern are that these activities are poorly, if at all, interconnected and that the marginal and erratic support by national public funding schemes prevents continuity and long term planning of the projects. On the other hand, the survey indicates that the scientific know-how spans several fields of basic, clinical and operational health research at a level which is clearly competitive and able to engage successful partnerships with laboratories and institutions of excellence throughout the African continent. This survey, the first updated source of information on Italy-Africa collaborations in health research, aims to prompt mutual communication and networking among researchers in Italy, Africa and worldwide. The RicercaItaliaAfrica Initiative of the ISS aims to further expand and use these results towards increasing the national public support of Italy-Africa collaborative health research.