East African GEOHealth hub for preventing environmental and occupational health risks
The burden of disease from environmental and occupational health hazards and climate change is a growing concern in eastern Africa. A significant portion of this burden is preventable, but most countries in the region lack the research capacity to analyze environmental health risks and assess policy implications. In addition, government infrastructure for environmental health monitoring, regulation, and enforcement is limited. To tackle these multi-dimensional challenges, this project aims to establish a regional hub of training and research excellence in eastern Africa with Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. The primary focus is to reduce the effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution, which is responsible for high and rising rates of disease and death in the region. The project also addresses emerging occupational health and safety problems from climate change in agriculture. Pilot research aims to analyze and reduce occupational heat stress in key industries of the region (e.g., flower greenhouses), engaging industry to validate models for predicting current and future health risks to workers. The long-term objectives of the project are to build capacity and leadership in eastern Africa for conducting cutting-edge multidisciplinary health research, extending a solution-oriented research portfolio to other countries, and addressing key priority problems in the region on environmental and occupational health. The project is being implemented under the Global Environmental and Occupational Health initiative led by the Fogarty International Center of the US National Institutes of Health in collaboration with Canada's International Development Research Centre. The overall research component of the hub is led by Ethiopia's Addis Ababa University in collaboration with Uganda's Makerere University, Maasai Mara University and Great Lakes University of Kisumu in Kenya, and the University of Rwanda. The research component is closely integrated with a tailored training program for research leaders in the region headed by the universities of Southern California and Wisconsin-Madison.