The NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

The NIHR Global Health Research Unit (GHRU) on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people affected by three highly neglected conditions in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Sudan. In the current phase of the project, IDS is working with partners in these three countries on impact, communications and engagement.

Since its establishment, the unit has carried out a highly successful needs-driven research programme into three conditions considered severely neglected in terms of research, public attention and political will: podoconiosis (a progressive, disabling form of leg swelling seen in barefoot farmers); mycetoma (a destructive infection of the skin and underlying tissues) and scabies (a profoundly irritating skin condition caused by burrowing.

Following a successful first phase (2017-2021), the Unit was awarded a further £7 million funding over 5 years by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to develop a second phase for the Unit.

The new five-year programme comprises 12 research projects. The projects will run in parallel and are grouped into four interrelated themes:

  1. Mechanisms of disease
  2. Geospatial mapping
  3. Diagnostics and drug development
  4. Implementation research.

The Unit is led by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), and partners in this phase include CDT Africa at Addis Ababa University and the Armauer Hansen Research Institute in Ethiopia; the Mycetoma Research Centre and The Institute for Endemic Diseases, University of Khartoum, Sudan; and the University of Rwanda.

IDS is working in collaboration with BSMS and partners to design and implement an impact strategy for the project. Activities include – for instance – engaging key national and local stakeholders to explore and refine optimal strategies for mycetoma case detection and treatment in Sudan that can be mainstreamed and sustained within national health and information systems. Another key area is around the integration and scale up of a community-based chronic wound care package for persons affected by skin-NTDs in Ethiopia. We also work with partners to package and communicate learning from this research and engagement to inform strategies in other contexts.

Further details can be found on the BSMS website project page.