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Breaking research barriers in the global south: insights from sports and exercise medicine and sports physical therapy research in Zambia and a call to action
  1. Mulenga Davie1,
  2. Jessica Wallace2,
  3. Sichitondo Martin3,
  4. Oluwatoyosi B A Owoeye4
  1. 1 Physiotherapy, University of Zambia University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia
  2. 2 Department of Health Science, The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
  3. 3 Department of Medicine, UNZA, Lusaka, Zambia
  4. 4 Physical Therapy and Athletic Training, Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
  1. Correspondence to Mulenga Davie, Physiotherapy, University of Zambia University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka RW1X, Zambia; mulengadavie{at}

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Zambia is in sub-Saharan Africa, where less than 1% of global biomedical publications emanate,1 despite the fact that sub-Saharan African countries record the highest burden of diseases globally.2 Scientists in low-income and middle-income countries lack the support needed to make significant contributions to their fields of research and advance equity and inclusion.3 Researchers have emphasised that education and research are key areas of training, capacity building and practice in low-income and middle-income countries.4 The British Journal of Sports Medicine’s Global Mentoring Programme is one initiative that can help develop research capacity in sports and exercise medicine and sports physical therapy (SEMS) towards advancing equity and science in the region.5 For example, the aforementioned initiative facilitated a collaborative relationship among the authors of this editorial. Further, collaborative efforts across cultures and nations like the ‘Concussion care in Zambia’ research initiative between the University Teaching Hospital Physiotherapy Department and concussion researchers in the USA can guide evidence-based practice in research and clinical practice and enhance equity and inclusion.6 7 These ‘top-down’ initiatives are essential; however, local settings benefiting must be receptive to achieve the greatest impact. This would require a ‘bottom-up’ system-driven programme locally to raise the bar of SEMS research and practice in the African context.

Public health research in Zambia largely focuses on infectious diseases, which consumes a significant …

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  • Contributors MD conceived and designed the study, wrote the first draft of the manuscript and conducted the literature review for the study content. SM contributed to the manuscript development. OBAO and JW contributed to the design, and provided additional literature relevant to the study. All authors contributed to the critical revision of manuscript drafts and approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests Dr Oluwatoyasi Owoeye is a deputy editor of the British Journal of Sports Medcine.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.