Our programmes and initiatives in Africa and Asia
We invest in researchers, large programmes of research and co-funded initiatives in Africa and Asia.
To support this work, and make sure that research has the greatest possible impact in these regions, we’ve made strengthening research ecosystems in Africa and Asia one of our strategic priorities.
On this page
Africa and Asia Programmes
Over the past 30 years, we've invested in five major research programmes in Africa and Asia.
The research programmes:
- are driven by the major health problems in their areas
- aim to train and support the next generation of researchers and research leaders in their regions.
The five Africa and Asia Programmes are:
- KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP), Kenya was set up in 1989. Its research focus is respiratory diseases, malnutrition, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.
- Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW) was set up in 1995. Its research focus is HIV, malaria and TB.
- The Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), South Africais an interdisciplinary institute, resulting from the merger of the Africa Centre for Population Health and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV (K-RITH) to tackle HIV, TB and related diseases.
- Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), Thailand and Laos was set up in 1979 by researchers from Mahidol University in Bangkok. We started funding the programme in 2005. It carries out internationally recognised research into tropical diseases.
- The Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU), Vietnam was set up in Ho Chi Minh in 1991, then in Hanoi in 2005. It carries out internationally recognised research into infectious diseases.
The Africa and Asia Programmes 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 Organization to use artemisinin-based combination therapies as the first line treatment for all forms of malaria.
Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa
The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) is an initiative to catalyse long-term funding, support and advocacy for research and innovation 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).
AESA aims to:
- support African-led initiatives in key areas of science, particularly health research relevant to Africa
- foster mentorship and collaborations in science, with policymakers and through public engagement.
To shift the centre of gravity for African science to Africa we handed over two major research programmes, DELTAS Africa and H3Africa, to AESA.
Developing Excellence in Leadership and Training in Africa
The Developing Excellence in Leadership and Training in Africa (DELTAS Africa) programme is funded by Wellcome and the UK Department for International Development.
The programme has supported eleven leading African researchers to establish cutting-edge research and training programmes across the continent.
DELTAS Africa is managed by AESA in partnership with the funders. AESA leads on decision making for African science, technology and innovation supported through the programme.
The Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance
The Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance is an initiative between Wellcome and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India.
The Alliance launched in 2008 and set out to:
- develop future research leaders
- build excellence in biomedical research
- support the Indian research ecosystem to rise to international standards.
In its initial 10-year phase, the Alliance awarded 349 fellowships to researchers in 99 institutions across India.
In March 2019, the Government of India announced a five-year extension to the Alliance. The DBT increased its financial commitment to £80 million – two times that of Wellcome. The next five years will see the Alliance boost its efforts to develop excellence in Indian science and support researchers to solve important health problems for India.
Wellcome Trust Centres for Global Health Research
Our Wellcome Trust Centres for Global Health Research (WTCGHR) work in partnership with institutions in the UK and low- and middle-income countries. The Centres support career development for individual researchers and help institutions to develop their expertise in global health.
There are five Wellcome Trust Centres for Global Health Research.
The Centre focuses on tuberculosis and respiratory disease, infection and immunity, mental and neurological disorders, and maternal and child health. It has partners in the UK, sub-Saharan Africa and India.
The Centre supports research in vaccines, clinical trials, infection and immunobiology, translational public health, and pharmacology. It has strong links with Malawi, as well as other research sites in low- and middle-income countries.
The Centre supports research in clinical trials, diagnostics, health systems and policy, environment and health, drug discovery, and population health.
The Centre focuses on three areas: maternal, neonatal and reproductive health, infectious diseases, and non-communicable diseases. It has partners in the UK and sub-Saharan Africa.
The Centre covers African population genetics, podoconiosis, tuberculosis, antibiotic resistance, mycetoma, and ethics in global health. It has partners in the UK, Sudan, Ethiopia and Cameroon.
MSD-Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories
MSD-Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories, a partnership between Wellcome and Merck Sharp & Doeme Corp, is a 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.
Human Heredity and Health in Africa initiative
The Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) 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 USA.
We made a £9 million grant to AESA to run a second phase of the initiative.
Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa)
The Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa aims to combat infectious diseases related to poverty, with a particular focus on TB and HIV. Find out more about our other Wellcome Centres.
Investment in science through our funding schemes
We also fund individuals and teams. 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 Organization 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, 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.