Who is telling the story? A systematic review of authorship for infectious disease research conducted in Africa, 1980-2016.

Authors: Mbaye R Gebeyehu R Hossmann S Mbarga N Bih-Neh E Eteki L Thelma OA Oyerinde A Kiti G Mburu Y Haberer J Siedner M Okeke I Boum Y
Journal Reference: BMJ global health 2019 ; 4(5); e001855. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2019-001855. Epub 2019 10 18
HIV buruli ulcer clinical trial epidemiology tuberculosis
eng

Abstract

Introduction: Africa contributes little to the biomedical literature despite its high burden of infectious diseases. Global health research partnerships aimed at addressing Africa-endemic disease may be polarised. Therefore, we assessed the contribution of researchers in Africa to research on six infectious diseases.

Methods: We reviewed publications on HIV and malaria (2013-2016), tuberculosis (2014-2016), salmonellosis, Ebola haemorrhagic fever and Buruli ulcer disease (1980-2016) conducted in Africa and indexed in the PubMed database using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses protocol. Papers reporting original research done in Africa with at least one laboratory test performed on biological samples were included. We studied African author proportion and placement per study type, disease, funding, study country and lingua franca.

Results: We included 1182 of 2871 retrieved articles that met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 1109 (93.2%) had at least one Africa-based author, 552 (49.8%) had an African first author and 41.3% (n=458) an African last author. Papers on salmonellosis and tuberculosis had a higher proportion of African last authors (p

Conclusion: African researchers are under-represented in first and last authorship positions in papers published from research done in Africa. This calls for greater investment in capacity building and equitable research partnerships at every level of the global health community.

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