CIAM Public Health Research and Development Centre
Pictured above: CIAM Headquarters in Kanifing, The Gambia
Based in The Gambia, we are a non-profit organisation uniquely placed at the interface between academia, public health decision makers, and providers of disease control interventions. We focus on public health concerns - malaria and HIV/AIDS and their associated diseases and health problems - that have major effects on the mortality and morbidity (and subsequent loss of economic and social capacity) of the people of West Africa.
Working in close partnership with local, national and international organisations, we undertake practical on-the-ground research into problem areas affecting the provision of services and health promotion. By collectively agreeing recommendations, we encourage their implementation and are on-hand to provide technical guidance as well as indepth monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes of the changes.
Our Centre also carries out extensive monitoring and evaluation of major national programmes in the West African region and undertakes technical support and human resource strengthening of national bodies.
A little history
CIAM started as part of a pan-African applied malaria research and capacity building partnership programme called The Gates Malaria Partnership’ (GMP). Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and operating under the auspices of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, GMP comprised of 5 African and 4 European research institutes which came together towards the end of 2000.
Amidst a raft of applied malaria research projects spanning 16 African countries and spanning a range of epidemiological and vector studies to health economics and anthropology, GMP established 4 projects to address capacity building needs largely within the research arena in West, East and Southern Africa and to bring malaria research more into the public domain. In the case of The Gambia, this initiative was established in 2001 and called The Centre for Innovation Against Malaria – or ‘CIAM’ as we are now known.
For the first 5 years we operated under the umbrella of GMP and - in regard to the Gambia and the region specifically - we worked within the structures of and with support from one of GMP's partners, namely the Medical Research Council Laboratories (often known as the MRC), which has had a long-term and significant research presence in the Gambia since 1947. In 2006 we gained NGO status but have retained a closed working relationship in several specific research areas with the MRC and look forward to maintaining this important and valuable partnership in the long-term.
From its earlier days, CIAM has been fortunate to work with The Gambia National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP). This partnership has been critical to CIAM's development, relevance and impact and we have worked along side each other providing mutual support for projects and strategies since 2001, sharing premises firstly in Banjul and more recently in a purpose built training centre.
The gap that CIAM fills
HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and many related diseases and health problems such as severe anaemia and nutrition, continue to affect every aspect of the lives of many children, women, men and families. They limit the opportunities for achieving better standards and positive change in the longer term too.
Policy makers, practitioners and health research scientists all strive to address and improve health and well-being and progress is being made. But there are significant gaps:
With our roots in both public health research, human resource strengthening and health practice, CIAM is uniquely placed at the interface between those in public health research, those at policy level who continually have to balance new information, resources and priorities, and those grassroots health workers who strive to deliver good services to the most vulnerable groups of the general public.
CIAM's mission and vision
Mission and strategic objective
Our primary focus is West Africa but we have an international perspective in all our work. We share the lessons from our studies and pilots and use research findings from elsewhere to inform decisions and research agendas that are set in West Africa.