A laboratory technician, working in a biosafety cabinet, prepares samples taken from patients with symptoms of covid-19, for a diagnostic test at the Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological Surveillance and Training (IRESSEF). It is the second laboratory, after the Pasteur Institute, authorised to carry out diagnostic tests for Covid-19 in Senegal.

IDRC’s response to COVID-19

Message from the President on IDRC’s 50th Anniversary
May 13, 2020

The date May 13, 2020 has long been circled in IDRC calendars. This marks the day, 50 years ago, when IDRC was established following the passage of the IDRC Act in Canada’s Parliament with unanimous support of all parties. 

Since its creation 50 years ago, IDRC’s mandate has remained the same – a testament to its enduring relevance. Research and science remain as vital today as in 1970 to generate sustainable and inclusive solutions to global challenges. We continue building on a 50-year legacy of successful partnerships with researchers from developing countries and Canada to meet immediate and long-term needs, build local capacities, and focus on the most vulnerable populations.

The unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic that we face today as a global community tests our ability to adapt, innovate, and collaborate. The pandemic knows no borders and global collaboration is essential to defeating COVID-19. Defeating this challenge requires a strong response in every country. 

IDRC is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through innovative new initiatives and through refocusing some of our planned research to ensure it is adapted to the pandemic context. This support is helping to develop, test, and study the implementation of effective interventions, including vaccines, to address COVID-19. In partnership with South Africa’s National Research Foundation, we are fostering research collaboration between science councils in Africa to support knowledge generation and translation from local researchers to inform diagnostics, prevention, and treatment of COVID-19. We are also supporting work to understand the broad economic and social impacts in low- and middle-income countries of both the pandemic and the shutdowns put in place to slow the spread. We will continue to share information about this work, including funding opportunities, via IDRC’s website and social media channels.

In an effort to help audiences keep pace with the latest developments and to highlight voices from the Global South, we are publishing a weekly digest of online literature related to COVID-19 covering both geographic and thematic areas of focus, as well as video interviews with researchers from the Global South. One interview is featured below, as well as the latest edition of the weekly digest. I invite you to check our website every Monday for the latest weekly digest.

The scale of the COVID-19 challenge requires immense resources and a collective response. We must recalibrate our work to and ensure development progress, just as we have done numerous times in the past, working hand-in-hand with local experts to respond to needs on the ground. This approach was critical in 1970 when we were created, and 50 years later it remains the trademark of our organization. Together, we will emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient. 

Jean Lebel
President of IDRC


Research in Action

Sylvain Cherkaoui/Panos Pictures