African researchers from Malawi, Ethiopia, Benin and Kenya share their stories in a video called “Research for Africans, by Africans.” Each received funding from the African Researchers’ Small Grants Program, which supports professionals in African research institutions or universities who are conducting studies to address emerging challenges facing programs in their countries to address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
In the video, Beninoise researcher Pelagie M. Boko – who is now Sightsavers’ country NTD manager for Benin and Togo – recalled the experience that led her into research.
“My first job, I was in the lab, we had a patient, she was a young girl. I was awoken in the middle of the night to test her for malaria. We lost that girl,” she said. “There was nothing to do for that poor community because it was one of the most rural in Benin. This is what got me into the research phase. Because if you can prevent them from getting the disease in the first place you will be more successful than if you wait for them to get sick and treat them.”
The video features members of the second cohort of the Small Grants Program. At the annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) meeting in November, the round of researchers was announced. The winning projects address issues from diagnostics to policy evidence intended to garner government support for NTD interventions. The program focuses on five NTDs (lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, schistosomiasis, and trachoma), with emphasis on research to improve equitable access to NTD interventions for vulnerable populations, such as nomads, groups in conflict zones and rural/hard-to-reach areas, refugees, and the disabled.
Through this program, researchers are building endemic countries’ capacity to eliminate diseases that are devastating their local communities.
The African Researchers’ Small Grants Program is facilitated by the African Research Network on NTDs through USAID and UK Aid funding to the COR-NTD.
Watch the video to hear from researchers fighting NTDs in Africa.