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Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have rapidly emerged as a major cause of disease and deaths in Africa. Contrasting with the global picture of disease, CVDs affect and kill the generation of breadwinners in Africa,1–3 this in a region suffering from the most severe health workforce shortage globally. This situation may hamper the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. In the global road map to achieve a 25% reduction in CVD morbidity and mortality by the year 2025 (‘25×25’ goal) as suggested by WHO, training champions who will lead the agenda in Africa is crucial. These champions would act as catalyst to both optimise the implementation of existing policies and produce local research evidence to guide policy, practice and improve the performance of the health system.4 ,5 The World Heart Federation Emerging Leader (WHFEL) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) Fogarty Wits Non-communicable Disease Research Leadership Training Programmes, among others, are two key initiatives at the forefront of this challenge. These programmes support organisations like the Pan African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR) in their efforts to detect, select and train talents on the continent. These are proactive and systematic investments designed to build a pipeline of CVD leaders within the African continent. Understanding what it takes to have an effective CVD policy leadership would provide an appropriate response to cardiovascular epidemics in Africa, hence the need to visit early strategies and associated results. Under the leadership of three investigators with expertise in different fields, the NIH Fogarty Wits Non-communicable Disease Research Leadership Training Programme was established in 2010. This training programme aims to develop a group of well trained researchers at the masters, PhD, and postdoctoral levels that will facilitate the cross-cutting need to examine in-depth social, genetic, epigenetic, clinical, and physiological factors of CVD and metabolic disease in Africa (figure 1). The programme is open to researchers from various parts of Africa and from different backgrounds, allowing them to meet and share experiences, networking and shaping the future of Africa. Thus far, 20 researchers selected from eight countries will contribute to advancing the understanding of CVD in Africa. They will provide evidence to monitor and understand the underlying causes of CVD and develop effective intervention programmes.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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