July 30, 2015

IAVI Programs Help Strengthen East Africa’s Health Research Capacity

NEW YORK – The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has made significant contributions to strengthening health research systems in East Africa, according to a study published by RAND Europe on 30 July.

In order to develop effective AIDS vaccines for use throughout the world, it is essential to build partnerships and bolster capacity to conduct vaccine research and clinical trials at the highest technical, regulatory and ethical standards in regions where they are most needed. IAVI has worked with in-country partners to build a network of Clinical Research Centers (CRCs) and laboratories in Africa and India dedicated to conducting AIDS vaccine trials and related epidemiological studies which also help build broader, lasting value in the communities and countries that participate in vaccine research. Click here to read about IAVI’s HIV vaccine trials and epidemiological studies to date.

Commissioned to evaluate IAVI’s capacity building activities in East Africa, where IAVI has operated the longest, RAND Europe reported that IAVI’s mission to develop an AIDS vaccine has become increasingly connected to wider strengthening of health research systems, through its epidemiological and clinical research activities in East Africa.

RAND found that IAVI has made significant contributions in training to support scientific excellence and good clinical practice, and investments in infrastructure and laboratories at CRCs in East Africa. Noting ongoing challenges in ensuring sustained investment, accessing marginalized populations and demonstrating progress, the report finds that “the experiences of IAVI to date suggest that substantial progress is being made towards wider health research systems strengthening in the region.”

“The RAND team spent a great deal of time with field-based stakeholders to capture the perspectives of the people and institutions we strive to benefit,” said IAVI CEO Margie McGlynn. “We are proud of RAND’s validation of the impact achieved by IAVI and our partners and deeply grateful as always for the support of our donors. We are already working to incorporate RAND’s insights about our successes and challenges into our forward planning.”

Among the report’s findings:

  • “IAVI has made a significant contribution to training interventions aimed at supporting scientific excellence and Good Practices … as well as investing in infrastructure and laboratories.”
  • “IAVI’s increased support for basic research … was ultimately necessary both for future HIV vaccine research in East Africa and to develop the next cadre of scientific leaders in the region.”
  • Investment in physical infrastructure “distinguishes IAVI from other donors … IAVI has challenged the traditional model of conducting clinical research in Africa.”
  • “IAVI has strengthened links between communities, policymakers and researchers by acting both as an innovation ‘integrator’ who ensures that scientific research is relevant and inclusive, and as a development ‘broker’ who brings together key stakeholders to raise the profile of HIV vaccine research.”
  • IAVI’s “train the trainer” approach is “hugely beneficial for the sustainability of clinical research in East Africa.”

Click here to download the full report.