Blantyre-Blantyre Clinical Research Project

Group of people standing together in front of signs representing partnership

This £2 million research project, funded up by the Scottish Government and World Bank, will research inflammatory and cardiac diseases in the communities of Malawi and Glasgow. It aims to improve Malawi’s healthcare as well as further our understanding about the causes of poor health in the west of Scotland.

In recent years, Malawi has seen an increase in non-communicable diseases such as cardiac disease, hypertension and arthritis. This is reminiscent of Glasgow’s health problems, in particular the pattern of chronic poor health and low life expectancy in some parts of the city which has come to be known as “The Glasgow Effect.”

The University of Glasgow is considered a centre of excellence in the study of The Glasgow Effect in the local population. Our expertise in this will be shared with Malawi’s College of Medicine in order to establish research projects there. This will see three new laboratories set up in Blantyre, Malawi. The results from these will then be used to improve healthcare in the country.

This collaboration will bring to bear internationally renowned expertise in non-communicable disease and infectious diseases in Glasgow (The Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology, MRC Centre for Virus Research, BHF Centre of Excellence and Versus Arthritis Centre of Excellence) on national health priorities in Malawi. Significantly, it will complement existing Glasgow partnerships with the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme (MLW) and Centre for Global Health Research. In the longer term, this will provide a centre of excellence for the region in non-communicable disease research.

This project contributes directly to SDG 3 & 4 (Good Health & Well-being & Quality Education) also by harnessing SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) we will in the longer term as the lab becomes self-sustaining contribute towards SDG 9 (Industry/Innovation & Infrastructure)

The project builds on a long shared history between Glasgow and Malawi that began with David Livingstone, the missionary, explorer and University of Glasgow scientist who introduced Malawi to the outside world and championed the abolition of slavery. Blantyre in Malawi is named after Livingstone’s birthplace, just outside of Glasgow. As well as continuing Livingstone's legacy, the Blantyre-Blantyre comparison aims to be mutually beneficial to both communities with the results of the Malawi research being used to inform research into Glasgow's health problems.

First published: 21 January 2021