Clinical Trials

Four Ways Clinical Research Has Impacted Healthcare in Africa

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Renee Jackie

Published 23 Sep 2022 - Updated 17 Nov 2022

Four Ways Clinical Research Has Impacted Healthcare in Africa - Infiuss Health


Treatment protocols must go through multiple stages of clinical trials to be considered the standard of care for diseases. The World Health Organization describes clinical trials as a type of research used to develop new diagnostic tests and treatments while evaluating their effects on human health. Clinical trials are part of a subset of scientific studies called clinical research—a branch of healthcare that examines the safety and efficacy of human medications, treatments, and diagnostic procedures.

With a population of over 1.3 billion people, there is a need to understand outcomes for treatments and procedures done in Africa. Clinical trial services in Africa should spark a larger interest in the healthcare sector, and for a good reason—here are four ways clinical research impacts healthcare in Africa and how it compares with the rest of the world:

1. It improves patient outcomes

Perhaps the primary reason behind clinical research is to improve patient outcomes for life-threatening yet preventable or treatable diseases. One example is the ongoing clinical research done in South Africa to find preventative measures for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The study tests the efficacy of Motivational Enhancement Therapy to steer expecting mothers clear of alcohol while pregnant. 
On the other hand, ongoing clinical trials elsewhere, like ones on dengue treatments in Singapore, demonstrate the importance of location-specific clinical research for endemic and tropical diseases. By having patient recruitment focusing on a particular demographic or locality, clinical research can ensure that the interventions are a good fit for the population's behaviors and that the results are also relevant.

2. It helps improve disease management
By testing out different strategies to treat a particular disease, clinical research helps improve disease management in Africa. This is the process of integrating care processes throughout the country. This process is primarily done by healthcare managers working on a national level by spearheading clinical trial data management. In the United States, healthcare management education places emphasis on population health management and financial management—two essential skills needed by healthcare managers to succeed in the realm of disease management. By taking up courses on change management, economics, finance, and human resources management, they can build an efficient health system for disease control that specifically diseases that burden the country. 
Africa is taking a cue from the US with institutions designing education programs that emphasize healthcare managers’ strategic role in healthcare development. Currently, MBA programs in healthcare management are being designed and implemented in Nairobi, taking into account the special circumstances of Kenya’s healthcare system and harnessing the strength of multi-sectoral partnerships between government and nonprofits that abound in the area.

3. It informs policy
Despite having the same outcomes, treatments can vary in price. This is where clinical research can step in—it provides information regarding treatment costs while examining ways to keep them down. Clinical research informs policymakers, helping them make better decisions regarding health service delivery and health care costing. 
In the European Union, for example, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides has urged the European Commission to create additional frameworks for agile clinical trial processes. Africa has notably led the way in this aspect, with the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum coordinating clinical trials on vaccine candidates for Ebola. The trials helped inform the regulatory body and ultimately addressed the Ebola outbreak on the continent. 
Clinical research informs policymakers and allows them to make better decisions regarding health service delivery and health care costs. For instance, informing policymakers how clinical trials in the region are still severely lacking due to delays in regulatory and ethical reviews can push them to investigate or create recommendations to improve this aspect of healthcare.

4. It increases investments in healthcare
Clinical research leads to the development of new medicines and treatments. Knowing the efficacy of these innovations through research can undoubtedly usher in investments to prevent or treat diseases plaguing the region. Conditions that disproportionately affect the continent, such as monkeypox, which is endemic in central and western Africa, necessitate increased financial support to prevent and manage them. The African Union's African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation's success relies on the financial support of organizations and governments across the region. As it works alongside clinical research, medicine manufacturing and access could also improve. 
Other countries have also followed Africa’s lead. In India, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has recognized the importance of clinical trials in drug development and has expressed a commitment to stimulating investment in this sector. All in all, these two examples show that growing investments in clinical trials is the best way to solve these illnesses while advancing healthcare as a whole.


Clinical research undoubtedly improves the quality of life in Africa by improving healthcare systems and finding significant discoveries. The development of medicine involves extensive research, and these are just a few of the ways clinical research has impacted healthcare on the continent.


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