The 2023 EDCTP Forum opening ceremony was graced by the presence of the French Minister of Higher Education and Research, Sylvie Retailleau.
In her welcoming remarks, Minister Retailleau noted that France had been a committed member of EDCTP since its founding and one of its main contributors. She praised the work that EDCTP has been carrying on the development of new vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases affecting sub-Saharan Africa, its building of research infrastructure in the region and training of young researchers, and its work in the area of pandemic preparedness.
She also welcomed the continuation of the programme: “After two great programmes we now have a third programme, EDCTP3 Global Health, launched on 10 May 2022 in Paris.” This new programme, she noted, now included the European Commission as a partner.
The Minister highlighted EDCTP’s outstanding track record, including the more than 300 clinical trials it has launched in its 20-year history. She particularly noted the French Government support for a global TB vaccine development project and EDCTP-funded work on a simplified treatment for fungal infections of the brain in HIV patients, both of which promise to have substantial public health benefits.
Sylvie Retailleau also stressed that the Forum was one of the priorities of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, as a sign of the commitment to strengthening of partnerships between Europe and Africa around health and pandemic preparedness. In addition, she highlighted the recent publication of a national strategy for global health, launched in October 29023 partnership with two of her governmental colleagues, Catherine Colonna, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Aurelien Rousseau, the Minister of Health and Prevention. This strategy, she suggested, reasserts France’s commitment to global health and presents planned training and research actions.
The Minister’s contribution to the Forum also included presenting the EDCTP Outstanding Female Scientist Prize to Professor Kogie Naidoo, Deputy Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). The Minister praised Prof. Naidoo’s commitment as a clinician caring for people with HIV/AIDS, as a researcher, and as teacher nurturing the next generation of scientific talent. “You are a role model for all female scientists,” she suggested.
She concluded by wishing everyone a “successful and fruitful forum”.