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Field work - students working on a Podo project
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News and events - 2020

BSMS > Research > Global health and Infection > GHI news and events
News and events 2020
Field work - students working on a Podo project

September 2020

New paper: instruments of health and harm 

Dr Arianne Shahvisi, Senior Lecturer in Ethics, Dr Mei Trueba, Lecturer in Global Health and Mahmood Bhutta, Honorary Clinical Professor, have collaborated on a new paper, 'Instruments of health and harm: how the procurement of healthcare goods contributes to global health inequality.' The paper considers how and why many healthcare goods, such as surgical instruments, textiles and gloves, are manufactured in unregulated factories and sweatshops where workers are subject to considerable occupational health risks. The paper, published by the BMJ's Journal of Medical Ethics, is available open access.

Read the Instruments of Health and Harm paper here >

New paper: podoconiosis and risk in Africa  

Dr Kebede Deribe, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, has published a new paper on podoconiosis in Africa. Podoconiosis is one of the major causes of tropical lymphedema and results in massive swelling of the lower limbs and is caused by exposure to mineral particle-induced inflammation among genetically susceptible individuals. Its geographical distribution and burden in Africa are still uncertain. Statistical modelling was applied to the most comprehensive database compiled to date to predict the environmental-suitability of podoconiosis in the African continent. Environmental-suitability for podoconiosis was predicted in 29 African countries. These estimates provide key evidence that will help decision-makers to better plan more integrated intervention programmes for this neglected tropical disease.

Read the podoconiosis and risk in Africa paper here >

Collins Iwuji Headshot

August 2020

Evidence provided for House of Lords enquiry  

Dr Collins Iwuji and Prof Gail Davey, from the Global Health and Infection Department, submitted a brief document to the House of Lords enquiry through a grant funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This research project, titled 'COVID-19 International Comparative Research and Rapid Knowledge Exchange Hub on Diagnostic Testing Systems', provides systematic comparison across countries in which effective diagnostic testing systems have been implemented and asks how key aspects of these systems could be rapidly replicated in other contexts.

Read more about the House of Lords evidence here >

Postgraduate teaching during COVID – blog 

Dr Anne Gatuguta and Dr Sarah Marshall (pictured above right and left), from the Global Health and Infection department at BSMS, wrote a blog for AdvanceHE on their experiences of teaching postgraduate experiences during the pandemic. Their blog incorporates insights they gained from feedback provided by students and the 10 elements that worked for them. 

Read More on Teaching during the Pandemic here >

Dr Jaime Vera Headshot

July 2020

HIV and vending machine technology

Dr Jaime Vera, Senior Lecturer in HIV Medicine, has been awarded a grant for a new project, 'Using vending machine technology to improve uptake of HIV testing and other sexual and reproductive health'. Adolescents and young people in Zambia continue to be vulnerable to HIV despite efforts to improve HIV testing and engagement with treatment. Lack of services tailored for adolescents and health care associated stigma have been identified as key barriers for engagement with care. To tackle this, Jaime's team plans to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of using digital vending machines to distribute oral HIV self-tests and other sexual health commodities such as condoms and pregnancy tests among adolescent and young people in Lusaka. Jaime, in collaboration with the Centre for Infectious Diseases research in Zambia (CIDRZ) and support from the Martin Fisher Foundation, obtained £139,870 funding from ViiV Healthcare Positive Action for Adolescents award for this project.

New blog: COVID-19 in Ethiopia: status and responses

Dr Kebede Deribe, Research Fellow in Global Health and Infection at BSMS, has written a new blog on COVID-19 in Ethiopia. The blog has been published on the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene website >

Jasmin Islam Headshot

June 2020

Brighton Lusaka Link aids training response 

The Brighton Lusaka Health Link, a partnership between BSMS and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUHT) and the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka, Zambia, has helped produce a new training video to support COVID-19 response. Dr Jasmin Islam, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Infection at BSMS, collaborated on a grant with colleagues in pharmacy at BSUHT and UTH for a project on antimicrobial stewardship. These include Anja St Clair, Fiona Rees and Sam Lippett. The team recently got a £5000 grant from the Tropical Health And Education Trust to extend making alcohol hand rub across all teaching hospitals in Zambia. This included producing a training video on how to manufacture alcohol hand rub, launched to support the COVID-19 response. 

WATCH the alcohol hand rub training video HERE >

Join Zaman for live webinar

Join Dr Shahaduz Zaman, Reader in Medical Anthropology and Global Health, for an online presentation titled 'How can rapid exploratory anthropological studies support public health COVID-19 responses: experience from Bangladesh'. This webinar will explore two studies he led with his team of researchers conducted during April in Bangladesh. The first study explores the communication crisis and misinformation, and the second study focuses on fear and stigma in relation to COVID-19. Zaman will draw from various innovative anthropological methods applied in a lockdown situation to illustrate how the idea of simple messaging and 'one size fits all' is not always appropriate, and you need social science contributions to contribute to any effective public health campaign. Zaman's webinar will take place on Wednesday 10 June from 11am-12pm on Zoom.

Join our Webinar with Dr Shahaduz Zaman here > 

Giovanni takes up associate editor position 

Dr Giovanni Villa, Clinical Research Fellow in Medicine and Infectious Diseases at BSMS, has been invited to work as an Associate Editor for the journal AIDS Research and Therapy.  

Rayan Ali standing with one other at the Meroe pyramids

May 2020

New paper: host genetic susceptibility to mycetoma 

The first paper to be published by one of the PhD students from the NIHR Unit on neglected tropical diseases at BSMS has been published. Rayan Ali, (pictured right in the photo taken at the Meroe pyramids) is registered at BSMS for her PhD but is based in Khartoum. The paper reviews what is known about genetic predisposition to fungal infections that might be relevant to mycetoma, as well as all studies carried out to explore host genetic susceptibility to mycetoma. 

Read Rayan Ali's Mycetoma paper here >

First 5S Foundation medical anthropology workshop delivered online

Back in February, colleagues from the Global Health and Infection Department were still hopeful they could run an inception week for all the recently recruited PhD and Postdoc students that will be part of the 5S Foundation, an NIHR-funded project that seeks to end the neglect of three conditions (podoconiosis, mycetoma and scabies) through bringing the social sciences to identify and inform interventions that are most effective at the level of the patient, the community and national and international policy. Needless to say, the prospect of in-person training quickly became untenable, but, with some quick adapting and IT skilling up, the team are pleased to share that the first of three medical anthropology workshops was delivered successfully over a six-day period, covering 11 different sessions. Dr Papreen Nahar and Dr Shahaduz Zaman co-facilitated the sessions, with Prof Gail Davey, Dr Gemma Aellah and Dr Hayley MacGregor (from the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex) presenting a session each. The learning from this online delivery will be applied to the following two trainings for students in Sudan and Rwanda. Feedback from attendees included: "I found the talk refreshing", "It sharpened my perception of research and anthropology tremendously" and "I found the training sessions very inspiring, informative and relevant."

NIHR grant given to HIV study 

A team lead by BSMS duo Dr Jaime Vera and Dr Tom Levett has been awarded a NIHR research for patient benefit grant to test the feasibility and acceptability of case-finding and subsequent comprehensive geriatric assessment intervention for older people with HIV with frailty. The study will be conducted in partnership with colleagues from King's College London. Jaime, who is the project lead, said: "This project will generate important evidence for HIV services on how to best manage older people with HIV affected by frailty. Frailty is syndrome that affects older people with HIV at a younger age than the general population, and therefore awareness is critical to ensure patients can access frailty services." 

Zaman presents research findings in live webinar session 

Dr Shahaduz Zaman, Reader in Medical Anthropology and Global Health, made a webinar presentation of a study results on fear and stigma in relation to COVID-19 in Bangladesh on 2 May. The webinar also featured a wide range of representatives from government, non-governmental organisations and civil society from Bangladesh. This study was initiated by Bangladesh Health Watch and Zaman was the main adviser to this anthropologically oriented study.

Watch the COVID-19 Stigma webinar here > 

PPE and impact on those who make it 

Dr Mei Trueba, Lecturer in Global Health, and Dr Arianne Shahvisi, Senior Lecturer in Ethics, have published a blog post via the Journal of Medical Ethics illustrating how workers who produce personal protective equipment to protect people against COVID-19 invariably have inadequate protection themselves. Mei and Arianne claim the NHS Supply Chain must factor ethics into its procurement decisions.

Read the PPE Production Ethics Blog post here > 

COVID-19 and communication crisis in Bangladesh 

Dr Shahaduz Zaman, Reader in Medical Anthropology and Global Health, has written an article, published in the newspaper Oped, based on a study he coordinated on the communication crisis in Bangladesh following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several government and non-government organisations have been providing various types of information. To understand whether or not this information is effectively reaching different segments of society, Zaman conducted a rapid anthropological study.

Read the COVID-19 Communication article here > 

High rate of blood clots in COVID-19 

A study led by Dr Chi Eziefula, Senior Lecturer in Infection and Dr Tim Chevassut, Reader in Haematology at BSMS, has supported the use of blood thinners to treat some COVID-19 patients. The disease is associated with a high incidence of venous thromboembolism, blood clots in the venous circulation, according to the research. In a series of 274 consecutive cases of COVID-19 admitted to hospital, a significant percentage (7.7%) were diagnosed with venous thromboembolism. Chi says: "Identifying which patients have a risk of, and clinical evidence of, a venous thromboembolism in COVID-19 is highly important for two reasons. Firstly, because venous thromboembolism is linked to a risk of death and secondly because it is treatable with anticoagulant medications." 

Read the COVID-19 and Blood clots story here >

New publication: digital patient feedback 

Dr Papreen Nahar, Senior Research Fellow (Medical Anthropology and Global Health), is a co-author on a new publication with her former colleagues from the University of Manchester. It is titled 'Implementing a digital patient feedback system: an analysis using normalisation process theory' and is available to read on the BMC Health Services Research website.

Read the DigiTal Patient Feedback System Paper Here > 

Gail Davey holding a large cardboard foot

April 2020

Gail appointed President Elect for RSTMH

Gail Davey, Professor of Global Health Epidemiology has been appointed as the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s new President Elect this week. Commenting on her appointment, Gail said: "I am delighted to serve as President-Elect of the RSTMH, following in the footsteps of many great leaders and innovators in global health over the past century. I look forward to expanding the cross-sectoral and inter-disciplinary approach that is already a hallmark of RSTMH, and to bringing academic and implementer perspectives to bear on the vital global health issues of our time."

Jaime awarded grant for HIV project

Dr Jaime Vera, Senior Lecturer in HIV Medicine, has been awarded a grant for a new project, 'The challenge of ageing with HIV in Africa: developing capability, partnerships and research in ageing and HIV in Zambia'. The number of people ageing with HIV in Sub Saharan Africa is increasing as a result of improved access to antiretroviral therapy. In high income settings ageing people living with HIV have disproportionately high incidence of major non-communicable diseases and reduced health-related quality of life. Evidence of this situation happening in Zambia is lacking. This proposal aims to establish a multidisciplinary research partnership to increase research capacity and capability in ageing and HIV in Zambia. Jaime has been awarded more than £19k by the University of Sussex's International Development Challenge Fund and Sussex Sustainability Research Programme for this project.  

Dr Thandi Milton shares her experience as the first European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS) Exchange programme fellow at BSMS

Thandi is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing stream of researchers coming to do an HIV-related clinical exchange at BSMS and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust via the EACS Short Clinical Exchange Programme. Below you can read an interview with Thandi conducted by Esther Garibay from the Global Health and Infection department at BSMS.

Read the interview from the EACS exchange programme >

Solidarity palpable around the globe

Around the world, many academic institutions are shifting their day-to-day operations to assist their local health systems to combat COVID-19. An example of this came to the Global Health and Infection team at BSMS from CDT Africa, one of the partners of the NIHR Unit on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) at BSMS, which is normally dedicated to the development for novel therapeutic discoveries supported by clinical trials. As a response to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health's request for support, they are now helping on the following:

Natural antiseptic: they have developed a natural-ingredients-based antiseptic and are working to scale up the production to assist with the control of the virus, given the global shortage of hand sanitiser.

Knowledge synthesis: recognising the overwhelming amount of information emerging, they have established a knowledge translation team to collate the key facts about COVID-19 for the Ethiopian Ministry of Health via daily knowledge synthesis updates.

Personal protective equipment (PPE): although this is not the specialty of CDT-Africa, because of the dire need and the large number of partners they have, they are now collaborating with STEMpower to produce PPE locally. 

New global health papers

Dr Kebede Deribe, Research Fellow in Global Health and Infection, has recently published two papers. The first, published by Biomedical Central Infectious Diseases, is titled 'Mapping lymphatic filariasis in Loa loa endemic health districts naïve for ivermectin mass administration and situated in the forested zone of Cameroon'. The second, published in the Oxford Academic's International Journal for Quality in Health Care, is titled 'Health system capacity for tuberculosis care in Ethiopia: evidence from national representative survey.' Read it here > 

HIV project given Frontiers award

Dr Collins Iwuji, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Sexual Health and HIV Medicine, has been given a Frontiers Follow-on Funding Award for a multi-partnership project that will explore optimised electronic patient records to improve clinical monitoring of HIV-positive patients. The study will be conducted in partnership with colleagues from the Africa Health Research Institute, the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine and the University of Cape Town in South Africa, as well as the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Collins, who is the project lead, said: "I am very excited about this project which aims to evaluate a quality improvement package to improve the care of HIV-positive individuals on antiretroviral therapy. We envisage that the project will result in improvement in viral load monitoring, prompt identification of virological failure and appropriate clinical management." 

BSMS colleagues join meeting on NTDs

BSMS was well represented at a 50-strong Zoom meeting this week for the Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network (NNN) and Disease Management, Disability and Inclusion (DMDI) spring meeting. The DMDI group, one of the cross-cutting groups within the NNN, meets twice a year; once in Spring and once as part of the NNN conference in Autumn. The DMDI contains several working groups, which work and collaborate on different issues around DMDI. Dr Maya Semrau, Research Fellow in Implementation Research in Global Health and Infection at BSMS, co-convenes the Working Group on Mental Wellbeing and Stigma (together with Samhita Kumar from The Carter Center), the aim of which is to work towards reducing social exclusion and stigma, promoting mental wellbeing and improving access to appropriate mental health care for people affected by neglected tropical diseases. The group does this by sharing announcements around calls for proposals and facilitating intra-group discussions to foster collaboration among members and avoid duplication. Maya's role as co-convenor is to facilitate dialogue and information sharing among members to promote the integration of mental wellbeing and anti-stigma efforts within NTD care. The above slide was shown by Dr Neerja Chowdhary at the DMDI meeting as part of her presentation about a World Health Organization manual on mental wellbeing and NTDs that is currently being developed. Maya is one of the reviewers for this document and was acknowledged on the slide. 

Lockdown reflections

Dr Shahaduz Zaman, Reader in Medical Anthropology and Global Health at BSMS, shares his reflections during the lockdown period. 

More about Dr Shahaduz Zaman's reflections on Lockdown >

Footwork secures funding from IZUMI Foundation

Footwork, the international podoconiosis initiative, has secured new funding from IZUMI Foundation. Footwork will receive $250,000, which will be allocated for the following programmes; Next Steps for Podoconiosis Patients in Amhara Region, Ethiopia ($150k) and Elimination of Podoconiosis in Rwanda: Phase 1, 2020-2023 ($100k). Since 2016, IZUMI Foundation has provided support for patient services, training of health workers and community awareness-raising activities in Amhara Region, one of the three most heavily affected geopolitical regions of Ethiopia, where podoconiosis affects 4% of the adult population. The service delivery model used in these IZUMI Foundation-supported projects has been endorsed by the Ministry of Health, forming the basis of a guideline for lymphoedema management. The award will also enable the first steps toward eliminating this disease in Rwanda, a country that recently acknowledged the prevalence of the disease thanks to the work of Dr Kebede Deribe, Research Fellow at BSMS. He said: "Our data provides information on where the disease is prevalent and quantifies the number of cases. Having found podoconiosis across all districts in Rwanda, we need to now focus on ensuring that those suffering from it have access to treatment and preventing the occurrence of new disease."

Natalia Ivashikina Headshot

March 2020

New collaboration to assess the cost-effectiveness of independent prescribing

Dr Natalia Ivashikina, Senior Lecturer in Global Health Economics at BSMS, has been awarded £120,000 as part of an NIHR-funded project at the University of Surrey, to carry out an economic model to assess the cost-effectiveness of independent prescribing by therapeutic radiographers and supplementary prescribing by dieticians. A recent change in the law allows people in these roles, working at an advanced level, to prescribe medicine for their patients. Before they can prescribe, dieticians and therapeutic radiographers must pass a prescribing training programme. Dieticians, who manage diet and feeding for many health problems, can prescribe medicines from a treatment plan agreed with a doctor, known as 'supplementary prescribing'. Therapeutic radiographers, who deliver radiotherapy and manage the side effects of this for people with cancer, can assess patients and prescribe medicine without the need of a doctor. This is known as known as 'independent prescribing'. Research on prescribing by other professionals, such as nurses and pharmacists, shows benefits to patients and to the NHS. From talking to patients, we know that faster access to medicines is important and this change may be welcomed if patient safety is assured. Natalia will be leading the work package on economic evaluation. 

more about the cost-effectiveness of independent prescribing  >

Papreen publishes new paper

Dr Papreen Nahar, Senior Research Fellow in the Global Health Infection Department at BSMS has had her paper published by Global Health Research and Policy on Biomedical Central, 'a protocol paper: community engagement interventions for cardiovascular disease prevention in socially disadvantaged populations in the UK: an implementation research study'. The paper also includes contributions from Prof Harm Van Marwijk, Professor in General Practice and Head of Primary Care and Public Health, Dr Elizabeth Ford, Senior Lecturer in Primary Care Research and Prof Stephen Bremner, Senior Lecturer in Medical Statistics. 

Read Dr Papreen Nahar's Paper here >

Research grant success for Collins

Dr Collins Iwuji, Senior Lecturer in Sexual Health and HIV Medicine at BSMS has been successful in securing two research grants. Together with investigators at Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa, Collins has been awarded an NIHR-HPSR development grant entitled Integrating HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis and diagnostic STI care: an individualised public health approach (iPrEP-STI). The research aims to take advantage of the current roll-out of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis for adolescent girls and young women in South Africa, to evaluate integrated models of diagnostic sexually transmitted infections (STI) care using an individualised public health approach. Collins has also been working with investigators at the Africa Health Research Institute, KwaZulu-Natal and University of Cape Town where he was recently awarded a Frontiers Follow-on funding by the Royal Academy of Engineering to undertake a three year research project entitled optimised electronic patient records to improve clinical monitoring of HIV-positive patients in rural South Africa (MONART Trial). This funding follows on from a formative research that demonstrated poor viral load monitoring and inadequate management of virological failure in HIV-positive patients on ART in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Data graphs taken from the paper on searching for a better tuberculosis vaccine

February 2020

New leads in the search for a better tuberculosis vaccine 

Daire Cantillon and Dr Simon Waddell, from the Department of Global Health and Infection, have identified a new vaccine candidates for tuberculosis (TB) in a recent study with colleagues from the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford. The work, published in Nature Vaccines, combines transcriptomics and immunopeptidomics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected macrophages to reveal new MHC-I and MHC-II bound TB antigen complexes. The results will help to develop new vaccines that are desperately needed to reduce tuberculosis. TB is among the top ten causes of death worldwide and is responsible for up to one-third of all antimicrobial drug resistant (AMR) infections. Click the link below to read the open-access publication.

Read the research on developing TB vaccines here >


Book on infectious diseases published

Dr Bethany Davies, Senior Lecturer in Infection, is the co-author on a new 650-page compendium on infectious diseases. The book includes various chapter collaborators from BSMS and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. Whether you're preparing for examinations or are looking for a concise resource to support your practice, this unique review contains precisely the information you need, from common infectious diseases concepts and conditions to hundreds of up-to-date review questions and answers for self-assessment and exam preparation. The book has taken three years to write and publish.

Get the book: Comprehensive Review of Infectious Diseases >


First analysis of micro-organisms collected from the wounds of people with podoconiosis 

Dereje Negussie, PhD student at the NIHR Unit for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) at BSMS, who is visiting from Ethiopia, presented a talk at the research in progress meeting on Monday 17 February. In the talk, he shared encouraging results from the first analysis of micro-organisms from the wounds of people with podoconiosis. He is working alongside Dr Belete Legesse, Post-doctoral Research Fellow, to identify plants with potential benefits as topical anti-infective agents for people suffering from lymphoedema. Dereje and Belete also spent a couple of weeks training at Kew Garden’s science laboratories, where they expect to return this summer to work alongside Kew’s science team to unveil the chemical composition of the plants they are studying.

Podoconiosis paper published

Dr Kebede Deribe, Research Fellow in Global Health and Infection at BSMS, is the lead author on a new paper, 'The health and economic burden of podoconiosis in Ethiopia'. The paper has been published in the Transaction of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and is co-authored by Professors Mel Newport and Gail Davey.

Read more about the burden of podoconiosis in Ethiopia  >

Feet in yellow sandals showing Podo symptoms

January 2020

£3.5m foundation launched in Brighton to fight tropical diseases

A new foundation to end the neglect of three tropical diseases has been launched at BSMS. These diseases are considered huge public health problems in the three countries in which the Foundation will work: Ethiopia, Sudan and Rwanda. 

Podoconiosis is a progressive, debilitating form of leg swelling experienced by barefoot farmers; mycetoma a slow-growing, destructive infection of the skin and underlying tissues; and scabies an extremely itchy infectious condition caused by skin-burrowing mites.  

more about the new fund to fight Tropical Diseases  >

New Stigma Working Group at BSMS 

Colleagues in the Global Health and Infection Department at BSMS have formed an interdisciplinary Stigma Working Group. The group has an open invite policy and welcomes anyone whose work includes stigma or is interested in learning more about stigma. The group hopes to become a forum to exchange ideas and perspectives on stigma; develop synergies and links to foster collaboration; and develop approaches to researching and speaking about stigma across disciplines, diseases and contexts. The Stigma Working Group will meet on every third Wednesday of the month from 12-1 pm. If you would like any further information about the Stigma Working Group, you can contact either Dr Caroline Ackley or Dr Maya Semrau.

Anne publishes new paper 

Dr Anne Gataguta, Teaching Fellow in Global Health, has published a new paper with colleagues from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. 'Supporting children and adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse to access services: Community health workers' experiences in Kenya' > 

BSMS group photo at the House of Commons
Annual Unit Meeting of the Global Health Research Unit on NTD
Field work assessing Podo patients
Men working in a field, caring boxes on their heads