U.S. Ambassador Dennis Hankins and Malian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Amadou Keita signed on February 16, 2021, a Memorandum of Understanding to renew the collaborative biomedical research program between U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako (USTTB). This partnership has made Mali a leader in the global effort to fight malaria, as well as deepening understanding of other diseases. The renewal will guarantee this long-lasting partnership continues through 2025.
This U.S.-Malian collaboration has been delivering impressive results since 1989. The renewal of the agreement ensures the benefits to Mali, the United States, and the world will continue to accumulate. The International Center of Excellence and Research (ICER) is one of the largest international research collaboration projects of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. It operates in four countries (also Uganda, India, and Cambodia), with the program in Mali being the largest. Over 600 Malians work in the ICER program. For over three decades, U.S. and Malian researchers have been developing the human and technological capacity upon which the success of the program depends.
For 32 years, Malian and U.S. scientists have benefited from this commitment. Together, Mali and the United States have built world-class biomedical research infrastructure at USTTB. Local research and innovation capacity resulted in over 450 published research articles. Malian scientists are respected as global leaders in the fight against malaria, neglected tropical diseases, and other emerging infectious diseases.
The biosafety laboratory level 3, established in 2003, has supported response to multiple outbreaks, including the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. U.S. scientists from the National Institutes of Health recently trained Malian scientists on COVID-19 diagnostics. This long partnership helped Mali mount an effective response to the COVID -19 pandemic.
The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic show the importance of international research collaborations like this one between the United States and Mali. Fighting infectious diseases must be a global effort because diseases know no borders. In the same spirit of international health cooperation, President Biden on his very first day in office announced the United States would be rejoining the World Health Organization. The International Center of Excellence and Research at USTTB plays an important role in international efforts to create a healthier future for all.