Problem Statement

As noted above, undertaking effective research requires that a basic infrastructure be in place. Key aspects of this infrastructure include access to adequate funding, skilled labor, and appropriate technology, as well as sufficient managerial and administrative capacity to plan, execute, monitor, and evaluate a study. Even in developed countries, amassing the resources required to undertake complex research endeavors is difficult, but these difficulties are multiplied many-fold in sub-Saharan Africa. Many sub-Saharan African universities have been badly neglected in recent years. The poor preparedness of matriculating students, entirely inadequate salaries for all levels of professional and support staff, neglect of buildings and libraries, and a lack of core funds necessary to move institutions into the technological age have contributed to the universities' slow demise and the widespread flight of their faculties into the private sector.

When research has been conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, it has usually lacked a coordinated plan. Furthermore, many of the findings that have emerged from the research have not been adequately disseminated, so that results are not widely known across the continent. As a consequence, the contributions of social and behavioral scientists have not been fully utilized.

As noted above, the objective of this chapter is to consider constraints on designing, implementing, and disseminating AIDS-related research in sub-Saharan Africa. The basic constraints to be addressed are as follows:

  • Insufficient/poorly allocated funds,

  • Inadequate manpower,

  • Unintended negative consequences of donor policies,

  • Inadequate coordination of research efforts, and

  • A harsh environment for conducting research.

There are no easy solutions to these problems, but after discussing each in turn, we make several recommendations that may marginally improve the situation in the short run and should be considered in developing any long-term strategies for conducting and applying research in sub-Saharan Africa.

Data Sources

This chapter draws on two types of information: (1) existing documents, including evaluations of national AIDS control programs conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s; and (2) interviews conducted by members of the panel during site visits to Zambia, Tanzania, and Cameroon during January and February 1995 (see Appendix A for detail on these visits). These countries differ greatly with regard to HIV/AIDS infection rates, the extent and nature of their response to the epidemic, and the importance of social and behavioral research in

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement