Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Thursday, 19th June: Mary Robinson launches Ireland Africa Partnership for Health Research at RCSI

19 June 2008

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson officially launched the ‘Ireland Africa Partnership for Health Research’ at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) this evening, 19th June.

The innovative collaboration is led by Professor Ruairí Brugha, Head of Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at RCSI. Funded for the first five years by Irish Aid through the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the partnership will involve researchers from RCSI, the Centre for Global Health at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), along with researchers from six African countries including Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda. Support to the Partnership will come from the Malaria Consortium and two organizations based at the World Health Organisation in Geneva: the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research and the Council on Health Research for Development.

L-R, RCSI CEO, Michael Horgan; RCSI President, Prof. Frank Keane; Mary Robinson and Prof. Rurai Brugha, Head Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, RCSI

The aim of the partnership, in support of the Irish Government’s development goals, is to conduct research that will strengthen health systems in Africa in order to serve the poor more effectively. The Programme will contribute to achieving three of the Millennium Development Goals, which Ireland signed up to in 2000: the reduction of child mortality rates, improving maternal health, and controlling HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases.

Mary Robinson with Prof. Brugha meet members of the partnership at the launch

The main Programme themes are:
- Governance: research that contributes to strengthening the capacity of government institutions in providing services that meet the health needs of the poor.

- Human resources for health: research to identify strategies for ensuring that health workers are available, able and motivated to deliver health services, especially to those who are poor or marginalised.
- Access and Equity: research that contributes to understanding and overcoming barriers that the poor and other disadvantaged groups experience in seeking to access health services.

In delivering the keynote address, former President Mary Robinson said “I would like to congratulate all involved on the establishment of such an innovative partnership. Every day, thousands of people in Africa die unnecessarily through famine, poverty and disease. This collaborative approach between the three Irish institutions and six African countries can only be a positive step in the improvement of their life chances. This new programme is a truly global partnership, with the focus of the research partnership on health issues of paramount importance, not just in the developing world.”

Professor Frank Keane, President of RCSI said “RCSI is delighted to lead such a worthwhile programme. For many years, the College has been committed to eradicating disease and poverty and improving life chances for those less fortunate throughout the world. We are continuously looking at ways to support our staff, fellows and students in their efforts to improve life for those in less developed countries.” 

RCSI President Prof. Keane and Mary Robinson

Professor Ruairí Brugha said: “Ireland has a long history of commitment to delivering health services in Africa, through our missionaries, NGOs and through Irish Aid’s support to governments and ministries of health.  This innovative programme of health research capacity strengthening, which is funded by Irish Aid through the Higher Education Authority, will support new long term collaborations between Irish and African researchers.  In this way, by sharing our expertise, all our capacities will be strengthened to produce the research needed for effective health policies in Africa