The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have unveiled a strategic partnership that will leverage innovations and sustainably scale them up to guarantee a healthier and more productive future for Africa.
The partnership was sealed with a memorandum of understanding signed by the AAS President Felix Dapare Dakora and WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti at the 2019 Grand Challenges Annual Meeting.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Professor Dakora said, “This partnership builds on our shared vision, mission and interest to catalyse science, technology and innovation to promote good health and well-being for the greater good of the African continent.”
The AAS will implement the partnership through its Grand Challenges Africa programme, which promotes Africa-led innovations to help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by awarding seed and scale-up grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions.
“We will support the strengthening of national and regional platforms for innovation by collaborating with the African Academy of Sciences to create new country-level forums for innovation support,” said Dr Moeti. “The intention is to continually infuse new ideas and refresh the pipeline while at the same time building the ecosystem to support innovation.”
Through this partnership, the AAS and WHO will work together to promote the wide availability of quality, safe, effective, affordable and sustainable high-impact health interventions that benefit the public. The two parties will work on a process that will accelerate the development of innovations that are high priority and aligned with the WHO Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All, which intends to hasten country progress on the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.
With a decade left for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the AAS and WHO are committed to accelerating the impact of innovations. Earlier this year, WHO launched the first Africa Innovation Challenge, which recognizes home-grown innovations with the potential to solve African health challenges. Some innovations have already demonstrated success in significantly improving the health, lives, and productivity of African citizens, such as those funded by the AAS that are tackling maternal, neonatal and child health; safe water, sanitation and hygiene challenges; antimicrobial resistance; new drug discovery; and data sciences.
Grand Challenges Africa is implemented through the funding, programmatic and agenda-setting platform, Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, which is an initiative of the AAS and the African Union Development Agency and supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development.