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What does equitable global health research and delivery look like? Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) partnership as a case study
  1. Francisca Mutapi1,2,
  2. Geoffrey Banda2,3,
  3. Mark Woolhouse2,4
  1. 1School of Biological Sciences. Institute for Immunology and Infection Research, Ashworth Laboratories, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) Partnership, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Science, Technology and Innovation Studies Twitter, The University of Edinburgh School of Social and Political Science, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences & Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Francisca Mutapi; f.mutapi{at}


There is a current global push to identify and implement best practice for delivering maximum impact from development research in low-income and middle-income countries. Here, we describe a model of research and capacity building that challenges traditional approaches taken by western funders in Africa. Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) is a global health research and delivery partnership with a focus on strengthening health systems to combat neglected tropical diseases, malaria and emerging pathogens in Africa. Partners are academic and research institutions based in Ghana, Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and the UK. Fifteen other African countries have participated in TIBA activities. With a starting budget of under £7 million, and in just 4 years, TIBA has had a verified impact on knowledge, policy practice and capacity building, and on national and international COVID-19 responses in multiple African countries. TIBA’s impact is shown in context-specific metrics including: strengthening the evidence base underpinning international policy on neglected tropical diseases; 77% of research publications having Africa-based first and/or last authors; postgraduate, postdoctoral and professional training; career progression for African researchers and health professionals with no net brain drain from participating countries; and supporting African institutions. Training in real-time SARS-CoV-2 viral genome sequencing provided new national capabilities and capacities that contributed to both national responses and global health security through variant detection and tracking. TIBA’s experience confirms that health research for Africa thrives when the agenda and priorities are set in Africa, by Africans, and the work is done in Africa. Here, we share 10 actionable recommendations for researchers and funders from our lessons learnt.

  • Control strategies
  • Epidemiology
  • Health policy
  • Health services research
  • Health systems

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Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. All data and metrics referred to in this manuscript are available on our webpage on:

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Twitter @PIG_Edinburgh, TibaPartnership, @TibaPartnership, @TibaPartnership

  • Contributors FM, GB and MW were involved in conceptualisation. FM, GB and MW prepared the draft manuscript and all authors were involved in review and editing of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The work and research reported here was commissioned in part, by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Program (16/136/33) using UK AID from the UK Government. FM is funded by a Royal Society Grant ICA\R1\201399 and UKRI ODA Impact and Development Grant to UoE.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.