The Academic Alliance for Aids Care and Prevention in Africa AA

This program began in 2000 with a strong clinical training focus, and has broadened its activities to include preventive medicine, clinical research, laboratory training, and information technology and other infrastructure building.

It was conceptualized by a small group of academic leaders in the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the leadership at Makerere University School of Medicine in Kampala, Uganda. They formed the Academic Alliance (now a foundation) - a unique public-private partnership between academicians of Africa and North America, the pharmaceutical industry, and other organizations and institutions. The group recognized that "while international resources are needed to combat the ravages of the epidemic, the solutions for longer-term success rest in developing and sustaining African capacity to train, to treat, and to develop the research and care strategies within an African setting." This partnership, in 2001, launched the Academic Alliance for AIDS Care and Prevention in Africa (AA) with the goal of creating "a clinical training and research center where HIV/AIDS patients can receive high quality sustainable care, while clinically relevant scientific research can be used to answer important questions about HIV/AIDS in Africa." A 25,000 square foot Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) was opened in October 2004, and now cares for more than 8000 patients. Since then, over 900 health-care professionals from 22 different African countries have received training, mostly in short courses in Kampala. Ownership of the building and the program is in Ugandan hands and, although the faculty is very international, Ugandan professionals increasingly are filling the senior positions in the program. An AIDS Treatment Information Center provides a telemedicine referral network, which includes both a service and an educational function and provides free of charge, rapid, high-quality consultation relative to a wide variety of questions regarding HIV/AIDS and other conditions. Currently it is connected to 30 of 56 districts in Uganda. Service is planned for all districts by the end of 2007. The program connects with trainees in the field, and allows for follow-up and continuing medical education of trainees. An important contribution to the infrastructure needs is the establishment of a center of excellence in laboratory training, with a special focus on tests relevant to HIV/AIDS. A Clinical Scholars program has been established to provide five years of support to five young investigators who have completed their clinical training and choose to engage in clinical research under the mentorship of an internationally recognized investigator. Additional training opportunities include a three-year Infectious Diseases Fellowship, an Exchange Program in International Medicine (a six-month opportunity for US or Canadian Infectious Disease fellows to work at the IDI at Makerere University), and a two-year Masters in Medicine program at Makerere University.

Attention to the program's stability and sustainability is evidenced by the endowment of a Chair for the Executive Director of the Infectious Diseases Institute, and by successful applications for training funds from industry and government. For example, financial support from PEPFAR has been obtained to provide HIV/AIDS training to African physicians, nurses, and clinical officers who work in military hospitals and care for African military personnel (considered to be a group with high-risk behavior). The Academic Alliance has an effective public relations effort, which includes a quarterly newsletter to more than 5000 people, and several major fund raising events each year. It has appointed a visible and powerful board of directors (including a former Head of the US Department of Health Care and Human Services) and a distinguished scientific advisory board.

Overall, the Academic Alliance for AIDS Care and Prevention in Africa (AA) has done very well as measured by the five principles/key factors presented in the previous section. However, the enterprise is still very young, and the ability to sustain the same high level of funding and hands-on support will be tested when the founders who currently lead the effort pass responsibility on to their successors.

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