According to GlobalData’s Clinical Trials Database, there has been an increase in clinical trial initiation in the Sub-Saharan region over the last few years. Between 2020 and 2021 there was a 41% increase in the number of trials initiated, followed by a small decline in the subsequent years. Out of the Sub-Saharan African countries, South Africa is leading the way in terms of clinical trial initiation. Trials initiated in South Africa exceeded 4,000, followed by Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest disease burden in the world, including serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, acute respiratory infections, and diarrheal diseases. These diseases have high mortality rates and pose significant challenges to healthcare systems in the region. Top indications include infectious disease, oncology, and the central nervous system. Companies such as Novartis, AstraZeneca, and GSK have launched initiatives and programmes to address healthcare challenges in the region, particularly in the field of infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and antimicrobial resistance. Novartis has the most clinical trials being conducted within Sub-Saharan Africa. This was then followed by AstraZeneca, where top indications include respiratory tract inflammatory disorders, asthma, and diabetes. GSK also followed closely, its top indications being HIV, malaria, and parasitic diseases.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck Foundation, and Medicines for Malaria Venture are pumping investments into the area to help reduce disease burden whether that be through vaccination drives or awareness campaigns.