In Conversation: Elizabeth Marincola & Tom Kariuki, Science for Africa Foundation
For our ‘In Conversation’ series, Martin Wilson, Head of Content at Taylor & Francis, interviewed the Science for Africa Foundation’s Founding Chief Executive Officer, Professor Tom Kariuki, and Senior Advisor for Open Science, Elizabeth Marincola.
The Science for Africa Foundation is the founding partner of Open Research Africa, the F1000 publishing hub which enables the rapid sharing, discovery, use and reuse of African research to the benefit of all. This three-part interview covers the challenges facing African countries and the role of science and pan-African research in addressing those issues – including health and the rise of non-communicable and pollution-related diseases, the climate crisis, and equity. They also delve into how Open Research Africa paves the way for research to be more accessible to the wider public and other researchers, allowing for a faster response to some of the world’s greatest issues, by making all research findings open and accessible to all Africans, including open peer review and open data.
In Conversation with Tom Kariuki, part 1:
“There are opportunities – I think in the wake of COVID for example, there is more awareness with governments to strengthen the infrastructure of research in Africa. Many of them have some level of how to do surveillance for how diseases may emerge in the future and how they can be more prepared. Whether it is a small outbreak, whether it is an epidemic or a big pandemic, I think there is more and more discussions and investment going into this area.”
In Conversation with Tom Kariuki, part 2:
“70% of the funding that we put out goes to health research and for good reasons. […] This is a continent that is very much driven by young people. If you asked them what are their challenges, they’d say, three things, education, good health and they need opportunities, and they’ll do the rest, they’ll pursue their livelihoods, support their own families and create their own innovations. If I can end up as the director of what’s now translated into the SFA foundation, what warms my heart is always to engage with these young people who are now positioned themselves as leaders in their own right. I also look at the quality and the quantity of science that is coming out of the networks that we have supported across the continent. There are at least 3000 scientists that are directly or indirectly involved with us across the continent and our footprint is everywhere, so I think that is very warming.”
In Conversation with Elizabeth Marincola:
“It [publishing with Open Research Africa] plays a huge role because by publishing in an open environment, not only is the work available to other scientists who can build on it and advance solutions […] but it’s also accessible to the world, so it can get picked up by journalists who call public attention to [the issue], it gets picked up by clinicians who can take the lessons of what the output is and apply it to their thinking about their patients. And a group that is often forgotten but at the end of the day that is the most important group, and that is of patients and patient advocates who are demanding access to this information on behalf of those who are suffering from different health situations.”