Advancing Tanzania’s research ethics and medicine regulatory capacities (ASCEND)
The ASCEND project, funded by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) began in November 2020. It aims to establish Tanzania as a regional leader in research and medicine management by bringing together several regulatory bodies and academic research institutions. These include Tanzania Medicines and Devices Authority (TMDA), the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), the Zanzibar Food and Drug Agency (ZFDA), the Zanzibar Health Research Institute (ZAHRI), Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (KCRI), Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), and the University of St Andrews.
In March, the ASCEND steering committee – including Dr Sabiiti – convened in Dar es Salaam to assess the project’s progress and plan for the remaining objectives. A key accomplishment thus far has been helping Tanzania reach the level of regulatory competence required to serve as a mentor to other countries. Specifically, TMDA and NIMR have mentored the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority as it works to build its medicine-regulation capacity. Led by Dr Sabiiti, the University has played a significant role in this process by providing guidance on grant writing and research governance, thereby empowering these institutions to become research leaders in their own right.
In late May, doctoral student Ms Kissa Mwamwitwa, whose work on medicine safety has been supported by both ASCEND and MUHAS, arrived for her visit to St Andrews. She has used this time to meet with her co-supervisors Dr Sabiiti and Dr Eliangiringa A Kaale (MUHAS) and made use of state-of-the-art research facilities at the schools of Medicine and Chemistry.
Most recently, in early June, work began on a new project building on ASCEND’s work strengthening Tanzania’s medical regulatory capacity. Funded by EDCTP 3, BREEDIME (Building resilient research ethics, diagnostics and medicines regulatory capacity during routine and public health emergency periods) will focus specifically on epidemic and pandemic preparedness. The project was prompted in part by the country’s struggle to cope with the COVID-19 public emergency. The School of Medicine looks forward to seeing how this new project progresses in the coming months.