Tropical Diseases Research Centre - Zambia

Tropical Diseases Research Centre - Zambia

The Tropical Diseases Research Centre (TDRC) is a biomedical research Centre established by the World Health Assembly in 1977. It is located in Ndola, Zambia.

Historical Background

The Tropical Diseases Research Centre (TDRC) was initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in collaboration with the Zambian Government. This was in response to a resolution of the World Health Assembly of 1974 which called for the intensification of research into tropical diseases and stipulated that, as far as possible, the work should be done in developing countries where these diseases are endemic.

The Zambian Government generously offered space at Ndola Central Hospi- tal to accommodate the Centre. In January 1981, the TDRC became a Na- tional Institution for research, training, and service in diseases of public health importance in Zambia. To this effect, the TDRC must be seen first and foremost as a national resource dedicated to priority health problems in Zambia and as a facility for training national and regional health service personnel. It is a parastatal under the Minis- try of Health with the mandate to conduct epidemiological and clinical research.

Activities of the institute include epidemiological and clinical re- search in malaria, schistosomiasis African trypanosomiasis, HIV/AIDS, micronutrient deficiencies, health systems research, health impact and evaluation, training and service.

Scientific Departments

The Centre works closely with the Ministry of Health in various areas such as disease outbreak investigation and control, National AIDS Pre- vention and Control Programme, Health Systems Research, Disease Sur- veillance and Malaria Prevention and Control Programme.

The TDRC has 3 scientific departments namely: Public Health, Clinical Sciences and Biomedical Sciences.

Department of Public Health

The Public Health Department has personnel qualified in Epidemiology, Social Science, Demography, Public Health, Information Technology and Statistics. The department's mission is to understand the health prob-

lems of communities in urban and rural Zambia, and to define means of controlling them given limited resources devoted to preventive disease control programmes in developing countries in general. To achieve this goal, the department engages in both field and clinical research with multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on the techniques and perspectives of epidemiology, health systems research, clinical medicine, medical sociology, medical anthropology, nutrition and health economics.

The Clinical Sciences Department has well trained Physicians and Nurs- ing Staff. The department's mission is to conduct clinical trials of new chemotherapeutic agents against malaria, schistosomiasis, HIV/AIDS and other diseases of public health significance to Zambia and the re- gion. In its expanded role, the department will, in future, develop and test local herbs for treatment of endemic diseases.

Department of Biomedical Sciences

The Biomedical Sciences Department has 7 units, namely:

- Parasitology
- Immunology
- Vector Biology
- Hematology
- Microbiology
- Nutrition
- Clinical Chemistry.

Other than giving support to the epidemiology and clinical pharmacology programmes, the department has started conducting independent basic re- search to understand further the biology of disease causing organisms. The department provides support to and is a reference Centre for the National AIDS Control and Prevention Programme. It also evaluates all new diagnostic tools for tropical diseases.


Major achievements of the TDRC over the years include the training of Zambian Scientists in research; the design and implementation of a functional Primary Health Care Programme to control malaria morbidity and mortality in Isoka District; the design and implementation of a surveillance system to control African trypanosomiasis in Isoka Dis- trict, evaluation of new drugs for treatment of malaria, schistosomia- sis and HIV infection and defining the role of Vitamin A deficiency in childhood blindness in the Luapula Valley.


Inspite of the budgetary constraints, the Government of Zambia contin- ues to recognise the value of applied research to support disease con- trol programmes. In 1996, annual allocation to the TDRC was about Kwacha 605 million compared to Kwacha 5 million in 1981.

Most of the research at the Centre is supported by competitive grants from external donor agencies such as WHO, UNICEF, Welcome Research Laboratory, (UK), the Irish Government, USAID, WAF, etc. which in 1996 amounted to about Kwacha 558 million.


The staff complement comprises about 65 indigenous professional and technical staff supported by approximately 130 support and field per- sonnel. There is a deliberate policy of recruiting nationals and prior- ity is given to the training and retention of indigenous personnel. In 1982, of the 12 Scientists working at Centre, only 4 were Zambians. In contrast, the Centre now has 28 Scientists all of whom are Zambians


Lastly, the future of the TDRC lies in its Staff Development Programme. There is need for capacity building in the area of Health Systems Re- search so that the role of the Centre in capacity building in the area of Health Systems supporting the on-going health sector reforms and disease control programmes in Zambia is recognised. The TDRC remains one of Africa's finest institutions with internationally acclaimed reputation and capacity mainly to conduct clinical trails in diseases of public health importance in Zambia and the Region.

Tropical Diseases Research Centre
P.O.Box 71769
Tel: +260-2-610-961
Fax: +260-2-612-837

Subject: AFRO-NETS> Tropical Diseases Research Centre - Zambia From: "Dr T. Y. Sukwa" <> Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998 04:27:15 -0500 (EST)

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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