Global and Planetary Health Research
A brief overview and some examples of global and planetary health research at the University of Edinburgh.
Making the World a Better Place
We lead and contribute to research that is addressing major health problems affecting low and middle income societies across the globe, including studies designed to strengthen health systems and our planetary health.
We provide tools, advice and input that helps all our research to align with the values of the University’s 2030 vision. This includes convening partnerships globally, mentoring researchers working in LMIC contexts and developing resources to support ethical global research.
An interdisciplinary approach
Advancing Planetary Health is at the centre of the global health agenda. The health of people is entirely entwined with the health and wellbeing of the planet, and vice versa. Each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals seeks to improve the health of people and the planet. This is only possible with a multidisciplinary approach.
Across the University, a number of disciplines contribute to global and planetary health research – including biomedical, clinical, social and political science, geography, geoscience and engineering, veterinary science, law and divinity.
At the Global Health Academy we preference and support multidisciplinary studies and those that cut across traditional institutional functions and boundaries.
Examples of Global and Planetary Health Research
The lists below give a flavour of different types of research programmes and activity at the University of Edinburgh.
Please be in touch if you are involved in University research that is suitable to include in this list or if you would like more detail on any of these programmes.
|Developing a sustainable programme of cervical screening||In Malawi cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women of child bearing age, with numbers projected to increase. The project aims to develop a sustainable cervical cancer screening programme in Malawi, including skills development, screening clinic provision and developing systems for data collection and disease monitoring.|
|Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (The TIBA Partnership)||An African led, multi-disciplinary research programme that aims to empower African scientists to effectively and sustainably tackle neglected tropical diseases. The aim is to reduce the burden and threat of infectious diseases in Africa by informing and influencing health policy and strengthening health systems. Within the TIBA partnership there will be smaller rapid impact projects, each addressing a current knowledge gap in partner countries.|
|Belief in the time of Covid-19: Understanding the making of meaning and trust to maximise public health responsiveness of faith communities in DR Congo||This project is based in a fragile conflict impact region of DR Congo. It seeks to understand and addresses beliefs, misinformation and actions that run alongside and counter to the best public health advice about COVID-19. It promotes clearer narratives of preventative practices that can be disseminated by volunteers in faith communities. Partnering with the Anglican University of Congo (UAC).|
|RESPIRE: Exploiting Information Technology to Reduce Morbidity and Mortality from Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Bacterial Pneumonia, Influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs)||The NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE) at The University of Edinburgh is an NIHR Global Health Research Unit funded as part of the NIHR Global Health Research Programme in 2016/17. RESPIRE aims to reduce the impact and number of deaths caused by respiratory diseases in Asia in partnership with collaborators from 4 Asian countries – Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Pakistan. Its main aims are to: Map and collate continuing and emerging respiratory challenges; Prioritise existing evidence-based interventions that have the potential to be adapted to reduce mortality/morbidity in the partner countries; Support local adaption/tailoring of interventions for deployment in low-resource environments and catalyse developmental work in areas of unmet need; Support local implementation efforts and evaluation of programmes of work; Identify the best delivery mechanisms for long-term delivery/scaling-up.|
|NESP: A Network for Studying Psychological Resilience in Low and Middle Income Countries (NESP)||A programme to enhance mental health training. Aims include identifying genetic and environmental risk factors associated with mental health and resilience and to create a platform for future large-scale genetic, epidemiological and multidisciplinary studies of mental ill health and resilience in low and middle income countries.|
|NIHR global health research group on preterm birth and stillbirth at the University of Edinburgh (the DIPLOMATIC collaboration)||The DIPLOMATIC Group vision is to reduce mortality of children under 5 years within 3 years, by reducing preterm birth and stillbirth and to optimise outcomes for babies born preterm. Focusing on low income countries (LIC) Malawi and Zambia, we will share existing knowledge on evidence based practices (EBP) used in high income countries (HIC) and use new trial designs to test in LIC the effectiveness of a collection of the best practices, and to evaluate how they are best implemented. A range of projects and research takes place across the University within maternal health, including those looking at the links between body mass index during pregnancy, short term morbidity and health service costs, the impact of development aid on maternal health outcomes and the biological effects of stress in utero.|
|Global Surgery Research unit – NIHR multi country surgical initiatives||The GlobalSurg Collaborative (globalsurg.org) aims to improve surgical care worldwide. By directly involving junior clinicians, often through social media, the we have utilised technology to gather prospective patient-level data internationally. The first study examines emergency abdominal surgery to identify universal processes associated with best outcome. Data collection will finish at the end of January 2015, paving the way to a future randomised clinical trial.|
|Palliative Care needs in Refugee Settings: Case study Adjumani, Uganda||Using Rapid Systems Appraisal (RSA) a research team reviewed all documentation relevant to chronic disease, palliative care and refugee experience, mapped the roles of all key stakeholders, interviewed leaders in the refugee and host community, the Ministry of Health, Peace Hospice, and local Refugee Agencies. Interviews were conducted with those living with chronic disease, PC team members, and those who refer or interact with PC alongside observations of palliative care and chronic disease management in practice.|
|Family Medicine: An Innovative Partnership||A variety of projects aimed at advancing clinical capacity at a primary care level. This includes a new University of Edinburgh Masters in Family Medicine and also supporting research into the challenges and opportunities that exist in family medicine practice.|
|Strengthening and integrating palliative care into national health systems in Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda and Kenya||A three-year project that aimed to strengthen palliative care integration into the national health systems and enhance the provision of quality and comprehensive palliative care in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. The project included training to develop skills and knowledge amongst 480 health workers, mentorship and support from UK based mentors, establishing and integrating pathways for the early identification, appropriate treatment plans and care of palliative patients. Project recommendations were taken up into national policy and led to the development of regulatory frameworks and protocols for care.|
|ADVANZ: Advocacy for Neglected Zoonotic Diseases||Promoting and advocating improved surveillance and control of neglected zoonotic diseases in low-resource societies, particularly in Africa. The majority of neglected infectious zoonotic diseases affect poor and marginalised populations, who lack access to health services and face a cycle of ill health and poverty. The project aims to compile and synthesise evidence -based models and then help target decision making bodies involved in disease control. The project group will also develop a Pan African network to advocate for prevention and control.|
|ICONZ: Integrated Control of Neglected Zoonosis||A project working on eight neglected zoonoses to help improve control, prevention and awareness of neglected zoonotic diseases. The project is interdisciplinary and promotes collaboration, involving vets, medical doctors, scientists, epidemiologists and social scientists. The project is coordinated by the University of Edinburgh and has 21 partner groups from institutions across Europe and Africa.|
|Makerere Edinburgh Yale Palliative Care Collaboration||To support, develop, deliver and evaluate palliative care in a hospital setting and ensure its integration into the community. Working in Uganda and Sub-Saharan Africa and also promoting south-north sharing the project aims to identify both patient and staff needs, in terms of training, skills and resilience. The focus of the research is to describe different illness trajectories, examine cultural expectations and attitudes towards end of life, recognise social, psychological and spiritual needs and look at decision making and the choice of place of care and death. Another research focus is to establish a clinical framework for palliative care, helping to identify patient needs, the barriers that exist to providing good palliative care and to determine who influences the decision making.|
|Stamp out sleeping sickness||Looking at sustainable ways of fighting the, often fatal, disease in Uganda.|
|Scottish Malawi Psychiatry programme (exchange, training and research)||The Scotland Malawi Mental Health Education Project (SMMHEP) is funded by the Scottish Government. It aims to provide sustainable support for psychiatric teaching and training for health care professionals in Malawi. The project has worked with services in Malawi since 2006. It has supported the delivery of undergraduate medical teaching, provided ECT equipment and training, and supported postgraduate training in Psychiatry. Through a training of trainers programme primary health care workers in District health clinics have gained skills in mental health. The programme has also designed a suite of e-learning modules in mental health for use by medical students, post-graduate psychiatric trainees and psychiatric nurses and produced the Malawi Mental Health Handbook.|
|Development Of Nurse Leadership For Palliative Care||A project aimed at developing nurse leaders in Palliative Care in Uganda through clinical and organisational modelling of nurse leaders by specialist nurses from the UK. The project also sought to establish the foundations with the Ugandan Nurses and Midwives Council to recognise the role of the specialist nurse in palliative care, and to work with the Ministry of Health to ensure both professional recognition and career progression for palliative care nurses.|
|Enhancing Mental Health Training: Scotland-Malawi Mental Health Education Project (SMMHEP)||Providing sustainable support for undergraduate and postgraduate psychiatry training for health professionals in Malawi. The project is helping to deliver essential mental health interventions through community based programmes across all districts in Malawi. A sustainable e-learning platform has also been developed to support psychiatry training at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.|
|Ehealth and ICT in rural clinics to improve maternal health at Nkoma Hospital Malawi||To improve the health of the population that is served by Nkhoma Hospital and its related 9 health centres (approximately 375,000 individuals) through a local, timely and actionable health management information system connecting patients' clinical needs to health providers.|
|Oral and cervical cancer in rural India: using mHealth and primary care to improve prevention, screening and early diagnosis||A partnership programme on cancer screening between University of Edinburgh, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, the Rural Health Unit Christian Medical College, Vellore and Medic Mobile to assess the feasibility of scaling up of a Cervical and Oral cancer 'Educate, screen and Treat Model' in 3 partner sites (Christian Hospital, Mungeli, Chhattisgarh, TILDA Evangelical Hospital, Chaattisgarh, and Padhar Hospital, Padhar, Madhya Pradesh). The project is jointly administered by University of Edinburgh, Christian Medical College Vellore, Weill Cornell Medical College, USA and Medic Mobile, Nepal. The conference is supported by Global Innovative Initiative Project. The project explored supervision and quality assurance in cancer screening training, the challenges and successes of monitoring data collection, reporting, and registries, and strategies to improve health literacy about oral and cervical cancer through community engagement.|
|PAPAGENO: A pragmatic approach to the prevention of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia in obese pregnant women in resource poor settings||A feasibility study of a randomised clinical trial of metformin (compared with matched placebo) for the prevention of diabetes and hypertensive disorders in pregnant women. This study will help to determine whether routine administration of metformin could prevent gestational diabetes and pregnancy hypertensive disorders in Malawi and Zambia. Gestational diabetes and pregnancy hypertensive disorders both cause significant maternal and neonatal deaths and long term problems, indeed pregnancy hypertensive disorders account for 17.3% of maternal deaths in low income countries, and are the second commonest cause of maternal death after haemorrhage (severe loss of blood).|
|Family Medicine Education and learning with Pontifical University Chile||Working with the Pontifical University of Chile this research and training programme identified strategies for training of Family Medicine Trainers at PUC and in a range of Host Clinics across Chile.|
|Edinburgh Malawi Cancer Partnership||A project to develop an integrated cancer and palliative care unit at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, for patients with all stages of cancer. The service will be developed based on robust evidence-based protocols to support clinically effective and safe practice.|
|Sydney-Edinburgh –UC Davis Planetary Health Platform Strategic Alliance on Global Food Security and Planetary Health||The project contributes to novel thinking by stimulating new inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches to the complex challenges of Global Food Security and Planetary Health, via exchanges of ideas, staff and students. A series of programmes focusing on the intersection of food, health and climate have been developed.|
|Development of the tools and the learning culture for a bespoke Family Medicine Distance Learning online programme model||Working with partners at CMC Vellore this research focused on self identified needs from young doctors from the Indian Sub Continent on the types of training that would add value to their practice, and the ways in which online learning can contribute to greater and more equitable access to core knowledge for care.|
|Faith and Health||This research is exploring how different faith communities in African countries integrate their interpretation of healing with their healthcare programmes, and the impact of these on health-care delivery? The research looks at what major global health programmes could learn about delivery from local organisations and the ways in which faith contributions to health create state security.|
|Strengthening and Integrating Palliative Care into the Rwanda Health System (Rolling Out The Model)||A partnership to integrate palliative care across all health districts in Rwanda. The project includes the development of a modular support system network whereby hospital teams support health centres and a network of mentorship in country and from the UK. The project also supports the development and integration of a shared curriculum on palliative care.|
|Virtual Patient Teaching Resources within the College of Medicine Malawi and Edinburgh Medical School||A project to develop skills through scenario-based virtual teaching resources for health professionals in Malawi.|
|Every Picture Tells a Story: A Photovoice Project for HIV Positive Women in Scotland||A project examining the implications of immigration on the daily lives of HIV positive asylum seekers and refugees. The project gives a voice to 20 asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland with HIV, using photography to tell their stories.|
|Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa: Interactions between livestock/wildlife, poverty and environmental change ESPA – Ecosystem Services and Poverty alleviation)||A consortium of researchers from 20 institutions globally undertaking a major project to advance the understanding of the connections between disease and environment in Africa. Over the past few decades, more than 60 per cent of emerging infectious diseases affecting humans have had their origin in wildlife or livestock. The focus of the DDDAC project is on animal to human disease transmission, with four main research areas: Henipavirus infection in Ghana, Rift Valley fever in Kenya, Lassa fever in Sierra Leone and Trypanosomiasis in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The project aims to provide an evidence base and set of practical approaches to make the One Health agenda work and to promote sustainable poverty reduction and social justice.|
|Oh-Nextgen||A project developing an accessible web-based modular training course designed to train scientists to address One Health issues faced by communities in Africa.|
|Pesticide and plant self poisoning||This research led by Professor Michael Eddleston aims to reduce deaths from pesticide and plant self-poisoning in rural Asia, a cause of as many as 200,000 premature deaths each year and the number two global means of suicide. Michael has coordinated large clinical trials in South Asian district hospitals to better understand the pharmacology and effectiveness of antidotes and community-based controlled trials in order to identify effective public health interventions.|
|Edinburgh Academy of Sport||To advocate sport-based approaches to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 3, ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages. Health outcomes from sport include: reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, prevention of obesity, improved mental health and well-being, social cohesion, a positive impact on child and adolescent development and the development of team building and leadership skills. The Edinburgh Academy of Sport has been involved in various projects, including a Sports Values Summit in Cape Town, Sport, Mental Health and Dementia interventions, supporting Global Fellows to work with the Homeless World Cup and working with governments to forge Sports Diplomacy Strategies.|
|Person centred approaches to dementia and the role of relationships in post diagnostic support||A project supporting academics in the UK, Taiwan and India to form stronger working relationships in order to explore post-diagnostic relationships for people with dementia.|
|Co-Producing Sustainable Mental Health Strategies||A project focusing on community engagement in order to develop strategies to understand mental ill health and improve access to safe environments for those with mental health problems in Ghana and Zambia. The project uses transformational theatre and other art forms to facilitate community engagement.|
|Addressing the Diabetes Challenge in Africa by Embedding Research in Clinical Practice: A Malawi-Zambia-Scotland Diabetes Collaborative Network||Increasing evidence shows that diabetes in Africa differs from that in more developed countries, including presentation in young and lean individuals – indicating standard (Western-derived) clinical/therapeutic approaches to manage complications and disease progression may not be directly applicable. Importantly, diabetes is also emerging as a major pregnancy complication in Africa. This network will allow the development of a programme of patient-focused research, embedding diabetes research within clinical practice, building local capacity through training and developing a platform for clinical trials.|
|The Economic Gaze: The World Bank's Influence in Global Public Health||Analysing how the World Bank's involvement as an economic institution impacted the field of health policy and the conceptualisation of health.|
|Go4Health||A project examining what a post-Millennium Development Goal global health agreement would look like if it were grounded in the human right to health and aimed at resolving vast health inequities between and within countries. Professor Sridhar is leading the element of this study that looks at global governance and the role and influence of major international institutions, such as the WHO and the World Bank.|
|Governing Global Health: Who runs the world and why?||A project that assessed the success of the major PPPs in global health in meeting their objectives in comparison with the traditional multilaterals, the WHO and the World Bank.|
|Development Impact Bonds for sleeping sickness|
|Addressing the Diabetes Challenge in Africa by Embedding Research in Clinical Practice: A Scotland-Malawi-Zambia Diabetes Collaborative Network|