Nachega JB, Uthman OA, Ho YS, Lo M, Anude C, Kayembe P, Wabwire-Mangen F, Gomo E, Sow PS, Obike U, Kusiaku T, Mills EJ, Mayosi BM, Ijsselmuiden C.

Department of Medicine and Centre for Infectious Diseases, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Int J Epidemiol. 2012 Dec;41(6):1829-46. doi: 10.1093/ije/dys189.


To date little has been published about epidemiology and public health capacity (training, research, funding, human resources) in WHO/AFRO to help guide future planning by various stakeholders.

METHODS: A bibliometric analysis was performed to identify published epidemiological research. Information about epidemiology and public health training, current research and challenges was collected from key informants using a standardized questionnaire.

RESULTS: From 1991 to 2010, epidemiology and public health research output in the WHO/AFRO region increased from 172 to 1086 peer-reviewed articles per annum [annual percentage change (APC) = 10.1%, P for trend < 0.001]. The most common topics were HIV/AIDS (11.3%), malaria (8.6%) and tuberculosis (7.1%). Similarly, numbers of first authors (APC = 7.3%, P for trend < 0.001), corresponding authors (APC = 8.4%, P for trend < 0.001) and last authors (APC = 8.5%, P for trend < 0.001) from Africa increased during the same period. However, an overwhelming majority of respondents (>90%) reported that this increase is only rarely linked to regional post-graduate training programmes in epidemiology. South Africa leads in publications (1978/8835, 22.4%), followed by Kenya (851/8835, 9.6%), Nigeria (758/8835, 8.6%), Tanzania (549/8835, 6.2%) and Uganda (428/8835, 4.8%) (P < 0.001, each vs South Africa). Independent predictors of relevant research productivity were ‘in-country numbers of epidemiology or public health programmes’ [incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 3.41; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.90-6.11; P = 0.03] and ‘number of HIV/AIDS patients’ (IRR = 1.30; 95% CI 1.02-1.66; P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Since 1991, there has been increasing epidemiological research productivity in WHO/AFRO that is associated with the number of epidemiology programmes and burden of HIV/AIDS cases. More capacity building and training initiatives in epidemiology are required to promote research and address the public health challenges facing the continent. Comment in Epidemiology and public health research productivity in Africa. [Int J Epidemiol. 2013] Authors’ response to: Epidemiology and public health research productivity in Africa. [Int J Epidemiol. 2013]

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