New Funding for Global Health Research

13th July 2017

The Department of Health has announced that an MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit led project is one of 33 successful recipients of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Health Research Fund to establish new Global Health Research Units and Groups.

NIHR Global Health Research Group on Social Policy and Health Inequalities, led by Professor Alastair Leyland, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, will see the Unit work alongside colleagues in the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, and partner up with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Federal University of Bahia/Fiocruz to deliver a £2m research programme to improve population health in Brazil by studying the social determinants of health and improving the understanding of how to reduce health inequalities in low and middle income countries.

There is a substantial rate of poverty among the 206 million people living in Brazil and Brazil has a history of introducing welfare policies designed to lift people out of poverty. Finding out whether these have worked needs rigorous evaluation, which is important not just for Brazil but other countries too. Such changes in social circumstances have the potential to lead to an immediate improvement in health.

Image of a man of South America showing Brazil

The group will use data from the 100 Million (100M) cohort study in Brazil which brings together social security data (payments for welfare and other government support) with health outcomes focusing on infectious diseases for 114 million people. The researchers will link further data to enable research on the social determinants of health (the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age) and investigate the increasing problem of non-communicable diseases (e.g. heart disease and stroke) in Brazil, and they will look at outcomes prioritised by the World Health Organization such as preventable deaths in young children, maternal mortality and premature mortality from non-communicable diseases. The work begins this summer.

Professor Alastair Leyland said, “We are delighted to have been able to put together an outstanding international team to investigate the role of social policy in reducing health inequalities. Health inequalities affect all countries and discovering how to reduce these is of paramount importance in the struggle to improve health and social justice.”

In 2016 the NIHR invited UK-based universities and research institutes to submit applications to deliver applied global health research. Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR: funds high quality research to improve health; trains and supports health researchers; provides world-class research facilities; works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all; involves patients and the public at every step. This call for research was commissioned using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding. The funding is designed to support universities and research institutes looking to expand their existing global health work or for new entrants to the field. Applications were invited for institutions to establish NIHR Global Health Research Units and Groups, which can deliver measurable benefits to patients and the public in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Information on the NIHR’s Global Health Research funding can be found here.

First published: 13 July 2017

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