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WANETAM launches talent initiative program

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By Olimatou Coker

The West Africa Network for Tuberculosis AIDS and Malaria (WANETAM) Friday launched a talent initiative program on zoom.

WANETAM is one of the networks of excellence established by the European Union and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) to combat poverty related diseases in line with the International Conference on Harmonisation Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice (ICH-GCP).

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The network currently has a membership of 25 institutions from 12 West African countries and 5 European countries with a vision to attain expertise in the network of West African institutions to conduct clinical trials and research to control diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

WANETAM seeks to promote mentorship of young research institutions within their network through practical skills-based training, anchored on research development, scientific support as well as platform and infrastructure support.

Professor Assan Jaye, deputy coordinator WANETAM and head of training MRCG said WANETAM started in 2009 with seven institutions but it has grown to about 16 to 19 institutions and since its existence it has trained several clinical research leaders.

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“Unfortunately, these efforts are not meeting the development of women clinical researchers in the sub region. Women play an essential role in healthcare delivery, and it is vital that they have equal representation in health leadership for equity and innovation,” he said.

Professor Jaye said women remain vastly underrepresented in global health leadership positions. This, he added, provides a clear example of the deeply rooted power imbalances.

“In Sub Saharan Africa, the role of women in the health sector forms the foundation of health, wellbeing, and delivery of health systems because women comprise 70 percent of job roles of which 80 percent are nursing or midwifery,” he said.

He said despite these major contributions by women to the global health sector, only 25 percent of women occupy leadership roles in health research. “This is not acceptable,” he said, adding that the West African excellence for clinical trials on TV AIDS and malaria is running a vision to shift this gender gap in clinical research.

“We are committed to women-based research leadership in the sub region. For this reason, we fortunately got the opportunity to now implement a TP funded talent program, sponsor MSc and PhD for women in clinical research, and an emerging infectious disease in Sub Saharan Africa with women’s inclusion as our core value. Now, we have embarked on researcher leadership in the last cycle of funding or to where we actually initiated the researcher leadership development program at the level of postdoctoral fellowships,” he said.

Prof Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, coordinator of the Talent Initiative Program and director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana said as a woman she is excited about the initiative because she feels it will offer women the opportunity to train female scientists in West Africa.

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