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health and medical sciences 7
H E A L T H A N D M E D I C A L S C I E N C E S
ative, HIV prevention and vaccine trial units, ed standards of good practice, particularly
the national telemedicine programme, the in the conduct of clinical trials. Coupled
first national programme of the global Co- with an increasing number of postgraduate
chrane Collaboration, and the launch of the students from other universities and insti-
Global Alliance for TB Drug Development. tutions on the continent, South Africa has
An Office of Indigenous Knowledge Sys- seen a remarkable increase in the number
tems was established in 2001, which was of students completing postgraduate work
to develop a most innovative clinical trials in South Africa, co-supervised by South
platform for evaluating traditional medi-
African scientists. Much more can be writ-
cines. This led to the establishment in 2004
ten about South Africa’s health and medi-
of a Traditional Medicines Reference Centre
cal research at present. Suffice it to say that
which straddled the MRC and the CSIR.
South African health and medical science is
thriving and growing stronger by the day.
The new millennium also saw the emer-
In assessing the current state of health and
gence of rural health research through initi-
medical science in South Africa, it is neces-
atives in Bushbuckridge and rural KwaZulu-
sary to examine its resource base.
Natal, which tracked populations over time,
thus contributing significantly to global
7.3 Expenditure on health and
demographic and health surveys. In April
medical research in South Af-
2003, the United States Track and Field As-
rica
sociation announced that all future races in
the United States would be run according to
guidelines developed by the MRC’s Exercise
Science and Sports Medicine Research Unit
at UCT in South Africa. A study on blood
S
outh Africa spent 0.87% of its Gross
Domestic Product on research and
development (R&D) in 2004/5, an
lead in schoolchildren showed that levels
increase from 0.81% in fiscal year 2003/4.
of exposure were high and exceeded inter-
This figure rose through 0.92% in 2005/6
national reference levels. The first Phase IIb
to 0.95% in 2006/7, close to the national
clinical trial of a South African AIDS vaccine
target of 1%. The total domestic expendi-
was launched in 2007, and the work of the
ture (includes local and foreign funding)
HIV Prevention Research Unit was recog-
on R&D in fiscal year 2006/2007 was over
nised through its designation as a United
R16.5 billion (up from about R10.1 billion in
States National Institutes of Health (NIH)
2003/2004), of which 15.1% was spent on
Clinical Trial Unit. In addition, a number of health and medical sciences. The propor-
sites in South Africa have been designated tions of funds derived from this amount ex-
for paediatric and adult HIV clinical trials pended on health and medical R&D in the
units, funded by the NIH. business, government, higher education,
not-for-profit and science council sectors
A significant advance has been the align- in 2004/5 varied from 10.1% in the not-
ment of South African ethics committees for-profit sector, through 11.9% in the sci-
with internationally recognised and accept- ence council sector, 14.7% in the business
199
TWAS book_Chap7.indd 199 2009/10/06 12:03:05 PM
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