Professional Development Programs

Grant Writing in Africa


This an update on my grant writing trainings for the African Society for Laboratory Medicine and the US CDC. The first program was a five‑day class in Johannesburg, South Africa in October 2011 and the second program  was seven‑day class in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in  March 2012.

The forty students were African lab scientists and public health officials  with government and nongovernmental organizations (NGO's).  In the class, the students crafted grant proposals for the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis, HIV and malaria.

 Important trends in the public health field include the importance of coordinated  healthcare systems, proving practical applications of public health research and overall program sustainability. 

In addition to addressing these trends, grant writers in Africa face several major obstacles  compared to their American counterparts.  These problems range from a lack of writing skills in English and an inadequate public health infrastructure that is overwhelmed by high number of patients and high incidence of TB, HIV and malaria.

 Most of the major funding sources for public health projects in Africa, foundation and government, are based in the United States. For most of the grant writers, English is not their primary language which can be a challenge for writing grant proposals in English.  To help the students craft proposals, we developed a system of US‑based grant writer mentors who copy edited and proofread text produced by the students.  Several of the mentors were past USM grant writing students. 

Jack Smith