Research in Africa and Asia
Health is a global issue and to improve it, we need to act in the locations where health challenges are greatest. We invest in researchers, large programmes of research and co-funded initiatives in Africa and Asia.
Supporting research ecosystems in Africa and Asia became one of our priority areas in June 2016.
Why it's important
Our support helps build the capacity for research in Africa and Asia and accelerates scientific progress. That leads to health benefits for communities in these regions.
Major Overseas Programmes
In the last 30 years, we've invested in Major Overseas Programmes (MOPs) in Africa and Asia.
These research programmes:
- have research priorities driven by the major health problems in their areas.
- train and support the next generation of researchers and research leaders in their regions.
There are five programmes:
- The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya. The programme was set up in 1989. Its research focus is respiratory diseases, malnutrition, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.
- The Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, Malawi.The programme was set up in 1995. Its research focus is HIV, malaria and TB.
- The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, South Africa. The programme was set up in 1998. Its research focus is population and health issues affecting a rural population with one of the highest burdens of HIV in the world. The Africa Centre has merged with the Kwazulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV to form the Unified Institute.
- The Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme, Thailand and Laos. The programme was set up in 1979 by researchers from Mahidol University in Bangkok. Wellcome started funding the Programme in 2005. It does internationally recognised research into tropical diseases.
- The Vietnam Research Programme and Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam. The Programme was set up in 1991 in Ho Chi Minh and then in Hanoi in 2005. It does internationally recognised research into infectious diseases.
MOPs have had a significant impact in their regions.
For example, in South East Asia, early clinical trials using artemisinin derivatives showed they were more effective than quinine in the treatment of severe malaria. This led to a global policy recommendation by the World Health Organisation to use artemisinin-based combination therapies as the first line treatment for all forms of malaria.
Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA)
The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa is an initiative to catalyse long term health and development progress in Africa.
It was set up in 2015 by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Agency (NEPAD) with support from Wellcome, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The AESA initiative acts to:
- support African-led initiatives in key areas of science, particularly health research relevant to Africa.
- foster mentorship and collaborations in science, with policy makers and through public engagement.
Developing Excellence in Leadership and Training in Africa (DELTAS)
The DELTAS Africa programme is a scheme funded by Wellcome in partnership with AESA. Eleven DELTAS awards have been made to leading African researchers to establish cutting-edge research and training programmes across the continent.
We are currently working to hand over management of the DELTAS Africa awards to AESA.
Human Heredity and Health in Africa initiative (H3Africa)
The Human Heredity and Health in Africa initiative aims to improve the health of African populations through the study of the genomics of common diseases. The initiative is co-funded by Wellcome and the National Institutes of Health in the US.
The Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance
The Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance is a co-funded initiative between Wellcome and the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. The Alliance was launched in 2008 and acts to support the future scientific leaders in India through fellowship awards.
MSD-Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories
MSD-Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories, a partnership between Wellcome and Merck Sharp and Doeme Corp. Not-for-profit vaccine research and development initiative, based in India. Hilleman laboratories complete research into affordable vaccines, to combat disease in low income countries.
Investment in science through our funding schemes
As well as major programmes and initiatives, we fund individuals and teams working to address the health challenges in Africa and Asia.
For example, in Malawi, funded work has led to new ways of screening for TB in people who are HIV positive. This research led to World Health Organisation recommendations for TB screening and has the potential to save half a million lives.
Investment in public engagement
Alongside investments in science, we support engagement with the public and policymakers to raise the profile of research and encourage discussion about its impact on society.
For example, we supported
- the Dharavi Biennale, a vibrant arts festival in Mumbai, India which brought together local artists, researchers and the community to explore health challenges faced by residents of the biggest informal settlement in the city.
- Health in the Backyard, a community-led media project using digital storytelling methods to explore attitudes and perceptions of risk in communities involved in animal husbandry in rural Vietnam. This work helped these communities engage with Wellcome-funded research at the Major Overseas Programme in Vietnam.