Otago health researchers get major grant

Philip Hill
Philip Hill
Dunedin global health researchers have gained a $450,000 grant, as part of collaborative efforts to tackle tuberculosis in Indonesia.

Researchers from the University of Otago's Otago Global Health Institute have gained funding from the e-Asia Joint Research Programme and New Zealand's Health Research Council to help improve tuberculosis (Tb) management.

Prof Philip Hill, of the Centre for International Health, which is part of the institute, and colleagues Associate Prof Katrina Sharples and Research Fellow Dr Sue McAllister, will receive the funding.

They will undertake the three-year study, which aims to increase the number of cases of Tb being publicly notified in Indonesia.

This funding brings to more than $1million the amount gained by Otago researchers to undertake collaborative health research in Indonesia, since the Otago centre was established in 2008.

In the latest project, Otago researchers will work with their long-term collaborators at the University of Padjadjaran, Indonesia, as well as with researchers at Harvard University in the United States.

The project has also attracted more than $200,000 in further national health funding for associated researchers, through the international e-Asia health research funding programme.

There was scope for further valuable research to be undertaken in the future and for Indonesian researchers to continue their development towards collaborating as equals.

Tb is the third leading cause of death in Indonesia, where onemillion cases were recorded in 2014/15.

Prof Hill says that more than half of the Tb cases were not publicly notified.

And private healthcare practitioners, who provided most of the overall healthcare, had notified less than 10% of all diagnosed Tb cases.

The Otago study was important, as private practitioners "rarely notify the Tb cases that they diagnose", and the management of such cases became "compromised" Prof Hill said.

The researchers will undertake a tailored intervention trial involving the use of an electronic referral and notification system among private providers.

It was also planned to promote education and individual plans for providers, in a bid to boost notifications, he said.

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