By Paul Chinnock
Dr Ilesh Jani, Director General of Mozambique’s National Institute of Health (INS), welcomed the attendees. Dr Jani explained that the Outstanding Research Team prize is awarded to a research team in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe working on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected infectious diseases (NID) in the scope of the EDCTP2 programme. The team must have a good record of publications and have demonstrated a commitment to networking. The prize goes to the African-European Tuberculosis Consortium (AETBC). The Consortium was represented (online) by its leader, Professor Gerhard Walzl.
The Consortium was established in 2010 at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Prof. Walzl said the tuberculosis situation then was even worse than it is now. Early diagnosis and treatment is recognised to be key in improving the situation. About a third of infected people don’t get diagnosed. Over 10 years, and with EDCTP support, the Consortium developed a lateral flow test that can be used in the field (TriageTB). This supports the view that African technology is needed for African problems. Prof Walzl said the award to the Consortium also shows that African institutions can lead international initiatives.
Asked by Dr Jani what the prize means to him, Prof. Walzl said it is a recognition of the 10 years of effort from the whole team (in Europe and Africa) to develop the test. Many students who have been part of this programme have gone on to work in important roles.
Asked how he accounts for the Consortium’s success, Prof. Walzl said, ‘We built a team and we kept it together’. And his advice to young researchers would be – find the right partners for support in Africa and beyond. ‘Together we can do it’.