The Social Sciences for Severe Stigmatising Skin Conditions (5S) Foundation is a £3.5 million collaborative research partnership led by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) in partnership with IDS, the Mycetoma Research Centre in Sudan, the Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA) based at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and the University of Rwanda.
The project’s vision is a Foundation that will end neglect of three conditions (podoconiosis, mycetoma and scabies) through bringing the social sciences to bear on these conditions in our DAC-listed partner countries. 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. These conditions are huge public health problems in the three countries in which the 5S Foundation will work: Ethiopia, Sudan and Rwanda.
Social science research around NTDs is essential if key biomedical advances are to be successfully translated into elimination and control programmes, and our research will transform the health and wellbeing of people affected by these conditions by identifying interventions informed by social science perspectives at the level of the patient, the community and national and international policy.
The aims of the programme are:
- To examine the cultural logics and social and economic contexts of podoconiosis, mycetoma and scabies;
- To understand the dynamics and dimensions of stigma;
- To investigate how all three diseases have been conceptualised at national and international policy levels;
- To evaluate existing interventions using social science perspectives;
- To refine the conceptual framework developed to guide the Foundation’s research;
- To develop a comprehensive intervention strategy for each disease;
- To support endemic-country training posts (PhD and postdoctoral) in a manner that will leave enduring capacity for social science research;
- To facilitate South-South and North-South sharing of best practice in research and advocacy applicable to a wide range of stigmatising conditions in low-resource settings.
IDS is contributing to the research around the cultural logics and social and economic contexts of podoconiosis, mycetoma and scabies; the dynamics and dimensions of stigma; and the development of a comprehensive intervention strategy for each disease. We are also working in collaboration with partners to design and implement an impact strategy for the project.
Further details can be found on the BSMS website project page.
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