In October 2021, Prof Olga Lompo and Prof Samira Ouédraogo officially started implementing research and training activities under the O.R. Tambo Africa Research Chairs Initiative (ORTARChI) at Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo (UJKZ) in Burkina Faso, the first ever research chair awarded to a Francophone country.
This research chair was awarded using a co-chair model. In addition, the NRF partnered directly with its sister agency in Burkina Faso, the Fonds National de la Recherche et de l’Innovation pour le Developpement (FONRID), to lead ORTARChI implementation in Burkina Faso.
One year later, an implementation plan has been finalised and research ethics approved. Scientific and technical officers to support the chair have been recruited. Office and laboratory space has been provisioned by the university.
In addition, five PhD and five masters students, as well as one postdoctoral fellow have been recruited. The cohort of students have benefitted from a series of preparatory courses offered through the chair in research methodology, literature review, scientific publishing, data management and the English language.
With a focus on the five most diagnosed cancers in Burkina Faso, cervical, breast, liver, prostate and child cancers, this research chair is contributing to improving the accuracy of data collected by the country’s cancer registries. This work has commenced with Yalgado Ouédraogo Teaching Hospital, the largest teaching hospital in Burkina Faso as the pilot site.
The research programme is also designed to describe the therapeutic trajectory of cancer patients in Burkina Faso and develop evidence-based strategies aimed at improving the quality of care, patient survival, and quality of life.
In September 2022, the chair hosted a conference on cancer screening that was attended by researchers, policymakers, industry, and practitioners in Francophone Africa, with the aim of sharing experiences in cancer screening.
To ensure sustainability of the chair, the leadership of Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo have recently finalised a five-year strategic plan that outlines the university’s strategic and operational support to the chair. It also indicates the desire to leverage the chair to deepen the university’s internationalisation strategy, in both Anglophone and Francophone Africa.
The O.R. Tambo Africa Research Chairs Initiative (ORTARChI) combine political, development and higher education objectives. It aims to honour a leading figure in the development of African unity; have a catalytic impact on the development of research infrastructure in recipient countries; and contribute to knowledge production and high-end skills in alignment with AU Agenda 2063 and STISA 2024. Ten (10) O.R. Tambo Africa Research Chairs across seven countries namely, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia have been awarded. The NRF and South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) with core partners, the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) have partnered with NRF sister agencies in the seven countries and the universities to implement the initiative.