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French Oil Company Funding Rotavirus Research In Congo

“Medical researchers in the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) have been empowered to set their own research priorities through a funding mechanism backed by a French oil company, according to scientists speaking at the second European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), in South Africa this month,” SciDev.Net reports. “In 2011, the Congolese Foundation for Medical Research signed an agreement with TOTAL, stipulating that the energy giant would fund specific research activities and pay salaries,” which “enabled the foundation to set its own research priorities — a break with the usual funding constraints whereby researchers’ priorities are dictated by foreign funding agencies,” the news service writes.

“Francine Ntoumi, executive director of the Congolese foundation, says the TOTAL funding is used to run clinical trials on rotavirus vaccines for children in the country,” the news service continues, noting, “Rotavirus is … one of the country’s most pressing health challenges.” According to the news service, “[t]he partnership between TOTAL and the Congolese Foundation for Medical Research began with a fund of €130,000 (US$165,000),” and “[t]his year, TOTAL has allocated a further around US$190,000 — almost half the foundation’s budget” (Nakkazi, 11/19).

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