Friday, 4 March 2016

Prof. Richard K. Mibey, Vice Chancellor - Moi University officially opened CARTA’s JAS 1 and Jas 4 at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya.  The one-month long seminars will run from February 29 to March 23, 2016. 25 fellows from cohort 6 and 19 fellows from cohort 3 are attending JAS 1 and 4 respectively.
“I am much honored to be here. This program is transforming people and making leaders for the continent,” said Prof. Mibey. “You have been chosen amongst many who equally qualified to join this program. Don’t take it for granted. We count on you to be the change agents in your universities, your countries and for this continent.”
From left: Dr. Alex Ezeh, CARTA director presenting a gift to Prof. Richrd K. Mibey, VC Moi University. Looking on is Prof. Anne Nangulu, CARTA Board Chair
Joint Advanced Seminars (JASes) are central to the training of doctoral students by the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) program. The JASes offer students uninterrupted time off their usual work duties to be trained and work on their projects. Each fellow is expected to attend four JAS seminars. JAS 1 is for the new students while JAS 4 is for fellows in their final year of the program.
“CARTA was modeled as a 20-year program to deliver quality training to African students in population and health research on the background of growing demand for university education on the continent,” said Dr. Alex Ezeh, CARTA director. “Today, 8 years since the program was started, the challenge still remains and we need to ask ourselves who will train the university trainers.”
The JAS model by CARTA is uniquely structured and is residential. This way, students attending the seminars are able to remain true to the program tasks, learn collaboratively, interact with local and international facilitators, and develop and consolidate professional networks.
“Prepare yourselves for bigger things,” said Prof. Mibey while addressing cohort 6 fellows who are attending their first JAS.
“This program transforms lives and is bringing great development to the continent. I challenge the African Union (AU), East Africa Community (EAC), Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), and the Kenya Public University Caucus to work closely with CARTA and get involved in transforming PhD training on the continent and developing research leaders,” added Prof. Mibey.
The CARTA Program offers a quality enhancement to PhDs attained by its fellows and continues to influence the discourse in higher education and research in Africa through peer-reviewed publications and participation in international conferences. During the CARTA JASes fellows have access to over 500 cumulative years of experience from the facilitators. Writing, publishing, grant writing, policy engagement and community engagement are some of the skills that fellows are taught during the JASes.
“For us from the North, CARTA is an excellent example of how partnerships can be modeled and nurtured,” said Prof. Bo Eriksson of the University of Gothenburg. “I am very glad to participate at the CARTA JASes.”
Participants at the opening ceremony for JAS 1 and 4 at Safari Park hotel, Nairobi, Kenya

The ceremony was attended by amongst others the CARTA Board of Management Chair, Prof. Anne Nangulu and CARTA fellows from other cohorts.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Call for Emerging Voices for Health Systems Research 2016

 Call for Emerging Voices for Global Health 2016
(EV4GH 2016)
The Fourth Global Health Symposium on Health Systems Research
‘Resilient and responsive health systems for a changing world’

The Fourth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research will take place in Vancouver on 14-18 November 2016. The call for abstracts for the symposium is now open and the homepage of the 4th symposium will soon be updated with the call for EV4GH’.

In 2016, continuing with the tradition of partnering with a significant health systems research symposium, we shall be having a new edition of EV4GH in close association and partnership with the 4th Global Symposium on health systems research (Vancouver symposium), organized by Health Systems Global. The theme for the Vancouver symposium is Resilient and responsive Health Systems for a changing worldThe symposium will take place from 14-18 November, 2016 at Vancouver.

2015 has been an important year for EV4GH. We now have a new globally representative governance structure as well as a new secretariat. Read more about the new governance structure and the secretariat in the updated about section of the website. We announced these changes on the updated News section of our website.

For EV4GH 2016, we will select young researchers who seek to become global health advocates and/or local change agents in their regions/countries. Spread the word and share the call with researchers, institutions and other global and local platforms.
The EV4GH 2016 call can also be downloaded as a PDF from the link below.
See more at :

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Vaginal ring protects women from HIV when they use it, a study has revealed

HIV researchers have announced that a vaginal ring containing an antiretroviral (ARV) drug called dapivirine, helped protect against HIV in a large-scale trial involving more than 2,600 women in Africa.

The results announced on Monday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston, US, revealed that the vaginal ring prevented about a third of HIV infections among the women who used it in the research. But for those older than 25 years, there was 61% reduction in HIV acquisition risk.

"About 1 in 3 women who would have acquired HIV did not," said Dr. Jared Baeten of the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) and University of Washington. He was accompanied by Dr. Annalene Nel of the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM).

The study asked volunteers to insert a ring that slowly releases dapivirine into the vagina and its walls to prevent HIV in the case of unprotected sex with a man who is HIV positive. The dapivirine ring reduced the risk of HIV infection by 27% overall.

But women who were older than 25 years old received a 61% risk reduction. Intrigued by this significant age-related protection difference, researchers conducted additional analyses which revealed that women older than 25 were 56% better protected than those between the age of 18 and 21.

The study (ASPIRE comes from A Study to Prevent Infection with a Ring for Extended Use) was carried out in Uganda, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe. 253 Ugandans volunteered at Makerere University-Johns Hopkins (MU-JHU) Research Collaboration in Mulago, Kampala, as part of the total 2,629 HIV-negative women, aged 18 to 45, in the four countries. The study, which began in August 2012 until June 2015, was funded by the US National Institutes of Health.
The results were published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Flavia Matovu Kiweewa, who was the principal investigations officer at the study hosted by Makerere University - Johns Hopkins University Research Collaboration in Mulago, called it a very big achievement.

"To understand the impact, consider that about 400 people get HIV daily in Uganda. Over 50% of these are women. If all the 200 women used the ring, at a protection of one in every three women, we would save about 66 women per day. In a year, these are over 24,000 women! And if the women are above 25 years of age, at 61%, we would save 122 women per day, which makes it 44,530 women a year! That is a recommendable product!" she said.
Matovu also said the ring was well accepted. The women who participated in the study found it easy to use.

"Many told us they forgot it was even there and their partners did not feel it during sexual intercourse," she said.

A similar study, known as The Ring Study, is going on in Uganda and South Africa by IPM. 197 HIV negative women are volunteering in Masaka, under Dr Anatoli Kamaali, who is the principal investigator. Preliminary analysis so far shows a reduction of HIV infection risk of 31% overall, and 37% amongst participants older than 21.

The study, which began in April 2012 with 1,959 HIV-negative women, is expected to close in December 2016. However, following the positive results in ASPIRE, South Africa regulatory authority, IPM has decided to close the Ring Study and provide all women enrolled with the dapivirine ring for the remainder of their participation. IPM is seeking similar approval in Uganda.

Matovu said ASPIRE and The Ring study have made important strides in the fight against HIV in women and opened the door to developing next-generation products as well. The ring's development demonstrates how investments in scientific innovation and public-private partnerships can advance global health.

"Because women are often not empowered to have sex on their own terms, especially demanding for condom use, this will become the only tool so far that a woman can use without needing permission to protect herself from HIV infection. She only needs to replace the ring once a month, as a discreet and easy-to-use new method of protection," said Dr Clemensia Nakabiito, a consultant gynecologist with MU-JHU Research Collaboration, who is also the co-investigator for the ASPIRE study.

With these results, IPM also announced that it will submit an application for the licensure of the product.

"We hope that the ring will be available on the market very soon," said Nel. "IPM will use all efforts to fast track the process including getting World Health Organisation to prequalify it especially in countries where the studies were done," she said.

Women are at higher risk for HIV infection than men. More than half of the more than 36.9 million people living with HIV, are women. They account for nearly 60% of adults with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Girls 15-24 are especially vulnerable, twice as likely as boys to have HIV.

Experts and activists still advise that abstinence, monogamy and the use of male condoms are the best interventions. However, they have neither done enough to stop the HIV epidemic nor are they realistic methods in many settings. Women still lack practical and discreet tools they can use to protect themselves from HIV infection.

Vaginal rings are flexible products that fit comfortably high inside the vagina and provide sustained delivery of drugs over a period of time. Women in many countries already use vaginal rings designed to deliver contraceptive hormones.

The dapivirine ring, which women insert and leave in place for one month, is the first long-acting ARV-based product to be tested for efficacy. 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Why Africa can’t afford to have an outbreak of the Zika virus

By Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Malawi - This article was first published in the Conservation Africa

Should there be an outbreak of the Zika virus in Africa, the continent will not be able to cope. Shutterstock
If the latest mosquito-borne Zika virus breaks out in Africa the continent would be less prepared than any other to deal with the outbreak.
Zika fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease caused by the Zika virus which is suspected of leading to the birth of deformed babies. The virus is transmitted to humans when an infected Aedes mosquito stings a person. Direct human to human transmission through sex has also been reported.
The virus has spread to 23 countries in the South American region. Brazil has been the hardest hit with over 3700. Although the outbreak in Brazil has received the most attention, the virus has also since spread beyond the region to the Cape Verde Islands, which are off the coast of Senegal but are not part of the African mainland, Samoa and Tonga.
There are global attempts underway to stop the spread of the virus. It has been declared an international emergency by the World Health Organisation and the US’s Centre for Disease Control has put out six travel alerts so far.
There are several reasons Africa is least prepared to deal with an outbreak of the Zika virus. This includes the limited laboratory capacity and a lack of experts and funding.

Limited lab capacity

Firstly, the laboratory capacity to test for the virus is limited. Although the clinical features of the Zika virus are known, these are non-specific. This means other known diseases, such as malaria, have some - though of course not all - of the same signs and symptoms.
That Zika may appear like several other diseases makes laboratory testing for the virus imperative. But there are no widely available tests. This is unlike diseases or infections such as malaria and HIV/AIDS that have clinically tested and approved commercial laboratory tests or reagents.
Although inferior laboratories are not unique to Africa, in high income countries this challenge is mitigated by sending the tests to a national laboratory. For example in the US samples obtained from suspected Zika cases are now being sent to the Centre for Disease Control. In the UK the agency responsible is Public Health England’s Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory RIPL.
Although South Africa has the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, which could manage these tests in a standardised manner, several other countries do not have this capacity. Examples of the few comparable laboratories outside of South Africa are the Uganda Virus Research Institute and the Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemers University in Nigeria. But much of the continent does not have the infrastructural and human capacity to diagnose Zika.

A lack of experts

Facilities are not the only challenge. There is also a lack of proactive national and regional health experts to guide the response in case of any outbreak. This is a gap that needs urgent attention, not only for the Zika virus but also to deal with emerging and re-emerging infections.
There is much to learn from the Ebola epidemic which swept through several countries in West Africa in 2014 and 2015.
To effectively deal with the Ebola outbreak, international cooperation and collaboration was vital. Affected national governments, neighbouring nations and both local and international funders all came together to stem the spread of disease. For instance, Uganda and South Africa sent several teams of health workers to Liberia and Sierra Leone. There was significant capacity building which would not have taken place had this manpower not been available.
The international collaboration continues in terms of searching for a vaccine as well as the treatment and care of Ebola patients. We have learned that fragile health systems are more susceptible to infectious diseases epidemics.
Another challenge which the Ebola outbreak should teach Africa is that in terms of a disease spreading, no country is an island. While there may not be local transmission of Zika in a particular country, there is no guarantee that a country will not have individuals who travel to or come into it carrying the disease.
Unlike Ebola where direct human to human transmission through droplets was a concern, it is note that easy to transmit the Zika infection. The Aedes mosquito is needed as an intermediary or sexual intercourse must occur between an infected person and a susceptible individual. Therefore the border control needs for Ebola are more stringent than Zika. A Zika infected individual who travels from one country is more at individual risk of not being diagnosed and receiving appropriate care than of transmitting the infection.

No unified body

Unlike in the US, there is not a unified body of health experts on the continent. The available regional bodies such as the West African College of Physicians and the soon to be launched College of Physicians of East, Central and Southern Africa have their jobs cut out already to lead in the health sector.
The World Health Organisation’s African Regional Office, unlike its Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), does not proclaim advisories and guidelines apart from those decided at headquarters in Geneva.
As early as July 2013, the African Union Summit identified the need for an African centre for disease control modelled on the on the in the US. Among its responsibilities would be surveillance and response, which would include an emergency operations centre. Although the centre has been launched, it has yet to handle its first epidemic. Until the African centre for disease control is fully active, there is no comparable entity for Africa.
The re-emergence of diseases such as Zika calls for African states and experts, as well as the international community, to join forces to build the continent’s disease response capacities.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Call for Applications - DAAD In-Country/In-Region PhD Scholarships for Eastern Africa (2016/2017)

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has invited CARTA fellows from the Eastern Africa region to apply for PhD scholarships. The long-term impacts of the scholarships are: strengthening teaching and research at the higher education institutions in Eastern Africa region, solving development issues in the region, and strengthening universities, research institutes and research networks in Eastern Africa and contributing to the establishment of regional networks between these institutions. This is in line with CARTA’s objective of producing a critical mass of high-quality graduates trained to address complex issues surrounding health and development in Africa, retain them in the region, and provide them a vibrant intellectual environment as well as viable and challenging research and growth opportunities. Funding is generally granted for a period of 3 years.


Applicants must be CARTA fellows in the Eastern Africa region. Applications are only open to those who are in the very early stages of the PhD programme. They must demonstrate a strong commitment to research capacity building at their institutions as well as a potential for research leadership. The last degree of the applicant must have been completed less than six years ago at the time of application. The applicant must be a citizen of a country in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Evaluation criteria

Candidates will be selected on the basis of their previous research and academic achievements and the quality of their research proposals. The PhD proposals must demonstrate relevance to development.

What the scholarships will cover

The funding includes:
  • Stipends covering the cost of living including accommodation
  • Fees including cost of research and academic monitoring, tutorial and other support, university registration and tuition fees
  • Health insurance
  • Optional research stay in Germany for up to six months
How to apply
Applicants must submit the following documents:
  • Filled and signed DAAD  application form for In-Country/In Region Scholarships
  • A 10-15 page PhD proposal related to health and development with a detailed work plan
  • Abstract of the proposal on one page
  • Signed CV (please use Europass CV template (http://
  • A signed copy of DAAD information sheet for students
  • Certified copies of all university degree and transcripts
  • Admission letter or an official letter assuring admission. The letter should include a fee structure
  • Recommendation letter by head of the department indicating that you are a staff member and how you will be integrated into the staff development agenda of the university
Application documents should be submitted to the CARTA Program Manager ( and to by 11:59 PM (Nairobi Time) on March 15, 2016. The email should have on the subject line: Application for 2016 DAAD Scholarship.

All enquiries related to this call should be addressed to:
CARTA Program Manager
P.O Box: 10787-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Office Tel: +254 20 400 1000
Fax: +254 20 400 1101

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

World Bank Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Opportunities - Open Call: January 5 - February 2, 2016

We would like to share with you a fellowship opportunity from the World Bank Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program. 

The World Bank Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program awards grants of up to $25,000 for developing country PhD candidates to conduct innovative, development-related, research under the supervision of a research advisor at a host institution abroad.  

This year’s call for applications is open from January 5 to February 2, 2016. Applications are particularly encouraged from women and men lecturers or researchers working in academic or research institutions and currently enrolled in a PhD program.

For more information please visit this link:

Friday, 22 January 2016

CARTANews: July-December, 2015 newsletter

In this issue of the newsletter, we have lined up the following stories for you amongst others:

CARTA awards first ever post-doctoral fellowships
CARTA fellow presents at “Ignite Talk”
CARTA directors awarded honorary doctorates
Brown University joins the CARTA Program
Fellows’ Corner
Program Updates

You can access and download the full newsletter here: CARTANews: Volume 6 Issue 2