The University of Warwick is to receive more than £5million to find better ways of delivering healthcare to some of the world's poorest people.
The National Institute of Health Research's (NIHR) Global Health Research Unit on Improving Health in Slums has awarded the University's Warwick Medical School £5,686,767 which will be match-funded by the University with £717,988.
The long-term aims of the project include finding the best ways to deliver healthcare to people living in slums in Asia and Africa and then to persuade and work with politicians and other officials to make these changes.
Nearly a billion people live in slums and these are growing as more people are born and move to cities. People living in slums have many of the health issues seen in the rural poor such as dangerous childbirth, malnutrition, infectious disease deaths, alongside increasing risk of diseases linked to cities including traffic accidents, violence, stroke, heart disease.
Many of the world's poorest people live in slums, over-crowded neighbourhoods often made up of makeshift or derelict housing, without running water or sanitation.
Richard Lilford who is Professor of Public Health and Pro-Dean (research) at Warwick Medical School is leading the research. He said: "Even if slum residents live close to health services, they can have difficulty getting needed care.
"There are many reasons for this. It can be because city authorities do not have the will or the resources to meet the needs of those living in the slums. It can also be because people living in slums can't afford the cost of health care, or the time off work to seek care.
"The result is that many people living in slums go to low quality or unqualified clinics, or to various places - such as clinics run by charities to tackle specific issues e.g. HIV - but without joined-up care. This has negative consequences for both individual and population health."
The project team will map current health services and facilities and understand how these are used in six slums across Asia and Africa. They will identify the costs associated with how the health services run in each slum, including costs to the patients and their households.
Looking to the long-term they will develop models of the health services and use these to look at ways of improving health service delivery. The expert team will plan their study so that even after the funding ceases future work will be possible.
The areas covered by the project are currently confirmed as Nairobi, Kenya; Ibadan, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan and Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The project will result in detailed slum maps, which have already been demonstrated to support health service delivery by aid organisations during health crises such as cholera outbreaks. They will also develop knowledge of current demand and supply of health services in slums vital to planning future services.
Policy-makers will be able to use the body of evidence on health service delivery relevant to slum populations, so they can learn what is happening in this area globally and so good practice can be shared and failures are not duplicated.
Professor Lilford added: "Improving health services in slums will have a large impact on health in low and middle income countries. Because slums are overcrowded, better health services could benefit many people at once. Our unit will aim to make progress in this direction."
"Our outputs will support improvements in the organisation and effectiveness of health services, thereby delivering measurable benefits to one of the world's most vulnerable population groups."
The professor has previously directed large research units and his team has experience conducting global health research and shaping policy and practice. They will work alongside partners in other academic institutions including the African Population and Health Research Centre in Kenya, University of Ibadan in Nigeria, The Aga Khan University in Pakistan and the Independent University Bangladesh and policy organisations and slum communities.
The University's project will run until 31st March 2021. The money has been awarded to Warwick Medical School and the University's Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies.
In addition the University of Warwick has received another grant to improve the lives of India's millions of psychosis sufferers.
The National Institute of Health Research's (NIHR) Global Health Research Unit has awarded the University's Warwick Medical School £1.5million to work with this highly vulnerable and disadvantaged group.
The grants are a result of the 2016 NIHR invitation to UK-based universities and research institutes to submit applications to deliver applied global health research. Sixty million was made available for successful universities and research institutes looking to expand their existing global health work or for new entrants to the field.
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Notes to Editors
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through 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
For further information, visit the NIHR website.