Research colonialism obstructs malaria elimination
On 30 March Science Development Net published an article titled Research colonialism still plagues Africa. In summary it reads: "African researchers are suffering from power dynamics that favour global North collaborators"; and "While some initiatives are helping build local capacity, others undervalue African collaborators." This of course is not new. It is common practice and we have known that for long. But now it has been published and illustrated with a recent case: this years announcement of PATH and the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative to launch a $30M global malaria project. A collaboration of seven US, UK and Australian partners to help African National Malaria Control Programmes to fight malaria and save lives. The announcement ends with "Let's work together to end malaria." I can't help but I read this announcements as follows: we, a north-north collaboration, received $30M because only we know how to control malaria and we only trust ourselves with this amount of funding. However, we will involve you (researchers and organisations from the South) because we need you to do the actual work on the ground. We believe that we can make this into a success that we can publish in Nature, Science or the Lancet. So, let's work together to end malaria! I surely hope that my interpretation is wrong. There is a way to find out. Malaria professionals from the South speak up! AND malaria professionals from the North listen! Trust, respect, and shared decision making are at the base of a true North-South collaboration. Malaria is besides being a medical problem, also a socio-economic disease that needs to be researched, prevented and controlled in its socio-economic environment.
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Founder & Senior Editor MalariaWorld
Director Dutch Malaria Foundation