The research topics
Infectious diseases co-morbidities
Non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are increasingly becoming the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. As the demography changes there is substantial and increasing burden of non-fatal long-term NCDs including for example, mental disorders, epilepsy and arthritis. They are collectively underdiagnosed and undertreated, leading to multimorbidity, disability and chronic pain. This burden of long-term NCDs co-exists with a diverse burden of long-term infectious diseases.
DIDIDA aims to fill the knowledge gap in the scientific community on the mechanisms of interaction between non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases.
Human and livestock disease interactions
Humans and livestock in sub-Saharan Africa face challenges of infections and outbreaks of neglected zoonoses including coxiella, brucellosis and leptospirosis. Brucellosis and leptospirosis are endemic and among the most prevalent zoonotic diseases, impacting the livelihoods of many people in the region. They constrain the health and productivity of livestock leading to reduced income and food insecurity but also pose a risk to humans.
DIDIDA aims to develop new tools to enable more integrated approaches to pathogen surveillance and control such as new diagnostic and screening methods that can monitor multiple pathogens.
Engineering of diagnostic solutions
Infectious disease diagnostics has been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a wide variety of emerging methods based around both immunological testing and nucleic acid tests.
DNA or RNA based testing offers clear advantages in terms of sensitivity afforded by amplification methods, enabling asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic diagnosis. DIDIDA relies on simpler isothermal amplification methods, such as loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), than polymerase chain reaction (PCR), allowing community testing in remote locations.
This innovation will help create a tool to identify residual reservoirs of infections, often in remote rural communities far from laboratory testing infrastructure.
Socio-economic factors of health innovation adoption
DIDIDA will also use social science methods for user studies on operability. DIDIDA explores the barriers and opportunities in delivering diagnostics and m-Health in Africa, across urban, semi-urban and rural settings, involving researchers and practitioners.
DIDIDA is underpinned by social science, using healthcare technology assessment in order to quantify the societal, economic and healthcare impacts resulting from improved diagnostics and targeted treatment for diseases. The expected cost savings and consequences of mitigating disease diagnostic interventions in urban and rural populations will be expressed as the expected net-health benefits.
The main steps
Starting the research studies
Launching the technology development
Launching the technology integration into existing data infrastructures
Infectious diseases remain the leading cause of death in Africa, while non-communicable diseases are on the rise
At the same time, NCDs are putting increasing pressure on healthcare services. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are increasingly becoming the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa.
Improving detection and prevention tools is an important measure to reduce the growing burden of these diseases, especially in areas far from health care centres.
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