Global Health Academy

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 ( 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. 




Useful links



How we approach Global Research

The principles and approaches underpinning global and planetary health research at the University of Edinburgh.

Global Health Research Themes

Seven thematic areas of global and planetary health activity at the University.