3 research programs win $6M in CIHR grants to promote global health equity

July 26, 2011

Three research projects at the University of British Columbia have won five-year grants totaling nearly $6 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to promote greater equity in global health.

Jerry Spiegel, an associate professor in the School of Population and Public Health, received $1.9 million to lead a program examining the health effects of the global food system through five interconnected projects in Ecuador and Canada. Called "Think, Eat and Grow Green Globally," it will examine the effects of pesticide exposure on banana workers in Ecuador and grape pickers in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley; healthy eating in schools in Vancouver and in Quito, Ecuador's capital; and the changing livelihoods among indigenous communities in the Andes and in rural Canada.

The research will use information and communication technologies, such as photography, teleconferencing and web-based meetings, to connect the people who grow and eat food with each other, and with decision-makers in government and non-governmental organizations. The team includes UBC researchers Jennifer Black, Gwen Chapman, Alejandro Rojas, Ann Marie Nicol and Annalee Yassi, as well as collaborators from institutions across Canada and in Ecuador.

Annalee Yassi, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health, received $1.9 million to lead "Promoting Health Equity by Addressing the Needs of Health Workers: A Collaborative, International Research Program."

This program was designed to improve conditions for health workers in low- and middle-income countries, helping them address the challenges of work overload, inadequate supplies and risk of developing and transmitting infectious diseases, including drug-resistant tuberculosis. Among other things, it will implement and evaluate a public health intervention, ascertain the determinants of successful training and evaluate state-of-the-art information technology for knowledge transfer.

The research team includes UBC researchers Elizabeth Bryce, Jane Buxton, Mark FitzGerald, Carlo Marra, David Moore and Jerry Spiegel, as well as collaborators from institutions in South Africa, the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Annette J. Browne, a professor in the School of Nursing, received $1.9 million for "Equity-Oriented Primary Health Care Interventions for Marginalized Populations: Addressing Structural Inequities and Structural Violence." Researchers will test the effectiveness of innovative primary health care (PHC) interventions for people whose health is affected by poverty, discrimination and social exclusion. They will also study the policy environments needed to support equity-oriented PHC interventions.

Co-Principal Investigators of the program are Colleen Varcoe from and Marilyn Ford-Gilboe from the University of Western Ontario.
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Spiegel and Yassi are associates of UBC's Neglected Global Diseases Initiative (NGDI), an interdisciplinary network to investigate innovative and effective ways of identifying and overcoming barriers to the successful generation of affordable, life-sustaining medicines for developing countries. For more information about the NGDI, visit ngdi.ubc.ca. For more information about Spiegel and Yassi's newly-funded programs, visit http://ngdi.ubc.ca/2011/07/15/ngdi-associates-jerry-spiegel-and-annalee-yassi-receive-almost-4-million-in-cihr-grants/.

University of British Columbia

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