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UK Sponsors Five African Female Scientists for Health Research

The National Institute for Health Research is among key partners of the East Africa Consortium for Clinical Research-EACCR. The partnership involves 23 research institutions and universities in Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, and the consortium's Secretariat is hosted at Uganda Virus Research Institute-UVRI.

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The United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health Research has released 500,000 US Dollars to sponsor five female scientists to do health science research and studies.

The institute is among key partners of the East Africa Consortium for Clinical Research-EACCR.  The partnership involves 23 research institutions and universities in Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, and the consortium's Secretariat is hosted at Uganda Virus Research Institute-UVRI.  EACCR is currently implementing the third round of projects that will run until 2024. 

Funded by the European Union and developed countries like the UK, this round among others aims at boosting the capacity of six countries including Uganda to address poverty-related diseases namely HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, and also infectious diseases through mentorship, networking, cross-border research and developing infrastructure such as laboratories.

However, more emphasis is being given to encouraging junior scientists to spearhead these research projects and also by awarding half of the sponsorships for short courses, master degrees, and other courses to females through the Capacity Building for Female Scientists in East Africa -CAFÉ-SEA project.

Dr. Benard Kikaire, the HIV coordinator at UVRI, says the UK government is sponsoring five female scientists to pursue PhD studies and research in the next three years.  Each awardee has been allocated 100,000 US Dollars, approximately shillings 355 million, for studies and research. 

They include Agnes Gatarayiha from Rwanda, William Bukwa (South Sudan), Miza Silima (Zanzibar), Senait Tadesse(Ethiopia) and Belyse Munezero from Burundi.

During an online meeting with journalists, on Tuesday, the awardees lauded the UK government and other stakeholders for the sponsorship and training opportunity.

Gatarayiha says she is excited that she will not have to travel abroad to pursue her studies and research.

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Bukwa and Tadesse said that family and gender-related responsibilities and financial constraints are among factors that hinder most women from undertaking higher education at Masters and PhD levels in Africa.

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Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the Overall Coordinator of EACCR and also the Director at UVRI says women are under-represented in academic science careers including health research.

He adds that in sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of women scientists is even smaller than in other parts of the world with a huge disparity between men and women in higher positions in science and education achievements.

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The CAFÉ-SEA PhD programme will be delivered by five partners from the EACCR including Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Uganda, National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), and Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (KCRI) in Tanzania, Kenya Medical Research Institute, and African Research Collaboration for Health in Kenya and the University of Rwanda.

Prof. Kavishe says the program has five tracks which include Implementation Science, Non-Communicable diseases, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Research and Development, and Health Economics.

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