Public Health Cluster, Nairobi, Kenya
International targets have been established to improve child survival, reduce the burden of malaria worldwide and eliminate inequities in health encompassed as the Millennium Development Goals.
Achieving these targets demands a research evidence base to monitor progress towards these targets and inform decisions on how they can best be achieved
The Public Health group manages a portfolio of research to tackle the broad needs of reaching health targets in the developing world. The research examines the evidence behind health policy, the barriers to accessing care and prevention, the quality of care provision, the resource needs and the optimization of resource allocation, and the performance of international, regional and national system's to achieve the MDGs.
The scientific staff cover a multi-disciplinary range of research skills including epidemiology, medicine, mathematical modeling, disease mapping, health economics, social science and health systems research. 59 scientists are based in Nairobi from post-graduate research scientists, doctoral students, post-doctoral research fellows and senior research fellows.
The group is located within the National Public Health Laboratory compound at the Kenyatta National Referral Hospital. The location is of research-to-policy strategic importance being next door to the Ministry of Health's Divisions of Malaria Control, Vector Borne Diseases, Expanded Programme on Immunization, HIV/AIDS control programme and close to the University of Nairobi's Department of Community Medicine.
The research group are principally funded by The Wellcome Trust to support the infrastructure, research training and public engagement in addition to fellowship support to five research scientists from Kenya, Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Additional research funding is provided by smaller grants from the Department for International Development, World Bank and other national bilateral and funding agencies.
The research programme in Nairobi is configured around several key themes:
- Best-practice guidelines for the management of severely ill children -evidence base systematic reviews, targeted clinical epidemiological research, quantitative and qualitative understanding of hospitals' and health system's performance in provision of best-practice care
- Testing new ways of increasing access to new antimalarial drugs and the quality of care provided by health workers in the periphery of the health system
- Generating knowledge to help strengthen health system policies and interventions in ways which preferentially benefit the poorest - click here for more
- Measuring health intervention impact at national levels using modeled imperfect health information system data, national community sample and sentinel surveillance and economic evaluations of vaccine coverage
- Mapping malaria risks, intervention coverage and disease burden - the Malaria Atlas Project has assembled a unique spatial database of linked information.
- The epidemiology of malaria and helminth infections and strategies to reduce poly-parasitism and improve education in school aged children
Central to all the research in Nairobi is the interface between the science and the health policies in Kenya, regionally and at a Global scale.
Research undertaken by scientists at the Nairobi Unit has been directly linked to:
- The formation of national paediatric guidelines used by the Kenyan Ministry of Health
- Shaped malaria control and treatment policy through scientific monitoring of coverage and impact of the National Malaria Strategy
- Supported the Ministries of Health and Education in the development of school health guidelines and their evaluation
- Generated strategic malaria risk and health service maps for resource allocation for health service partners in Somalia and Kenya
- The development of evidence-based maps of malaria risk worldwide
- The accurate definition of current malaria intervention coverage in Africa and financial unmet needs globally for international partners in malaria control