The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative's Capacity Building Activities in East Africa

Mural at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, Entebbe

Mural at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, Entebbe

Photo by Gavin Cochrane

Background

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is one of a number of Product Development Partnerships created to bridge the gap between scientific and technological potential and the needs of low income populations in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Specifically IAVI is focused on creating a preventative vaccine for HIV/AIDS.

Whilst the remit of IAVI is to create new science, technology and products, its work necessarily involves a wide range of stakeholders and different constituencies in industrially developing and developed countries. Its capacity building activities relate to strengthening the ability to conduct clinical trials and are broad based, spanning scientific and technological capacity through to organisational, advocacy and broader development capabilities.

Goals

IAVI commissioned RAND Europe to evaluate its capacity building activities in East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda). Specifically, the project's goals were to answer the following questions:

  1. What is IAVI’s implicit theory of change regarding capacity building? How has this changed over time? How does practice match up with this theory of change?
  2. What examples stand out with regards to research capacity building in Africa, specifically in the areas of scientific skills training, community engagement and policy level activities?
  3. Have IAVI’s capacity building activities fed into attempts to strengthen capacity in the healthcare and health research systems in the countries where they have worked?
  4. Is IAVI making particularly notable and important contributions to health innovation and research capacity which other organisations are not achieving?
  5. Are there specific communities and segments of society — such as MSM, fishing communities, or discordant couples — where IAVI’s work has led to significant improvements in policy and service delivery?

Findings

Since it began its operations in the region, IAVI has made a significant contribution to training interventions to support scientific excellence and good clinical practice and invested in infrastructure and laboratories at Clinical Research Centres in East Africa. Although clear challenges still exist with ensuring sustained investment, accessing marginalized populations and demonstrating progress in capacity building, the experiences of IAVI to date suggest that substantial progress is being made towards wider health systems strengthening in the region.