Established in 2017, the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) at BSMS aims to:
- improve our ability to diagnose, prevent and treat podoconiosis
- develop tools to prevent mycetoma - there is no effective treatment
- strengthen the ability of low-income countries to respond to scabies outbreaks.
To achieve these, we have designed a programme of work that will be carried out in collaboration with three overseas partners: CDT-Africa at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; the Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and the Mycetoma Research Centre, University of Khartoum, Sudan.
Our vision is to undertake world-class interdisciplinary research to provide an evidence base for interventions targeting the neglected tropical disease (NTD) epidemic with approaches that 'leave no one behind'.
Over the last ten years we have researched the epidemiology, mineralogy, genetics, bioethics, economics, clinical management and social impact of podoconiosis. We will apply our experience in translational research on podoconiosis to other neglected conditions - mycetoma and scabies - that significantly affect the communities we already work with, and extend our methodology to include expertise in health economics and social science.
Podoconiosis is a progressive and disabling form of leg swelling often seen in barefoot farmers, mycetoma a slow-growing, destructive infection of the skin and underlying tissues, and scabies a profoundly irritating infectious skin condition caused by tiny mites burrowing into the skin which occurs in outbreaks in vulnerable communities. All three conditions are mostly ignored by other research groups.
They are associated with high levels of stigma which create social isolation, reduce opportunities for education and increases the risk of poor mental health. Knowledge of these neglected diseases within health care systems is often inadequate. Diagnosis and treatment options are limited and the cost of accessing health care to ease symptoms can be prohibitively expensive.