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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life SciencesHealth & Medicine

Global Health

Our academics are conducting world-leading research to develop new interventions that treat and prevent global health burdens and improve distributions of healthcare and governance.

Image credit: Professor Nuala McGrath

Our interdisciplinary scientists are working together to tackle some of the world’s most pressing global health challenges. Working in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we coordinate international collaborations with pioneering organisations to address the knowledge gaps and improve public health education for everyone. From measuring the impact of global infectious disease to assessing social inequalities in health to developing interventions to improve maternal health in developing countries, our research teams are examining global health challenges across the lifecourse.

For example, one of our main areas of expertise is translating the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) concept into interventions to improve human health and prevent disease in developing countries. Increasing evidence suggests that the lifestyle and diet of parents before they conceive a baby can affect the heath of their future child. We are working with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on the Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI) , to help expectant mothers in India, South Africa, Canada and China who are often malnourished or obese before and during pregnancy, to improve their diet, to improve the growth and development of their babies and so reduce risk of future diseases.

Our researchers are also leading key projects in Africa to develop new ways of improving the uptake, retention and adherence of prevention treatment for HIV by young people and testing the effect of financial incentives and an electronic patient-centred decision support took on the uptake of HIV testing. We are also developing research networks to examine the burden of musculoskeletal health and ageing.

We work in the real world, collaborating with communities at all levels. Through the Global Health Research Institute we are developing workable solutions and helping policy makers, including organisations such as WHO and UNICEF, to improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world.

Related Staff Member

Related Staff Member

Key words

Adolescents, Africa, Couples, Diabetes, Diet, Global health, HIV, Interdisciplinary, Lifecourse, Lifestyle, Non-communicable disease, Nutrition, Obesity, Southampton

Please see a selection of postgraduate courses related to this subject area below. 

For the full range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University of Southampton, please visit our courses webpages https://www.southampton.ac.uk/courses.page

MSc Global Health

An interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary degree programme that provides training on the principles, methods and research skills to understand, interpret and solve critical global health challenges.

MSc Public Health

A programme that provides training in all aspects of public health, with optional pathways specialising in nutrition, intelligence, global health and management.

PhD Programme in Biomedical Research

We are one of the UK's leading Centres for biomedical research and offer a range of postgraduate opportunities in both basic and clinical science.

DM Programme in Biomedical Research

We are one of the UK's leading Centres for biomedical research and offer a range of postgraduate opportunities in both basic and clinical science.

MSc Health Psychology

This programme provides training in developing and evaluation cutting-edge interventions to promote healthy lifestyles and effective strategies for coping with illness.

The NIHR Global Health Southampton 1000 DaysPlus Global Nutrition Research Group (INPREP)

Poor maternal nutrition and suboptimal infant and child feeding practices can have a profound impact on a child`s development, and can lead to adverse economic, social and health consequences in the long-term. Characterized by rapid nutritional transition, countries such as South Africa, Ghana, and Burkina Faso face the increasing challenge of double burden of malnutrition, where undernutrition coexist with overweight and obesity. The INPreP group aims to design and develop evidence-based context-appropriate interventions to optimise maternal and child nutrition targeting the first 1000 days of life.

Medical and Social scientists from Southampton (MRC LEU, BRC and IDS, School of Human Development and Health) work with colleagues at the Navrongo Health Research Centre in Ghana, the Clinical Research Unit of Nanoro, IRSS in Burkina Faso and PRICELESS (Priority Cost Effectiveness Lessons from System Strengthening), and DPHRU (Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit), University of Witwatersrand in South Africa to form the INPREP group. 

With funding from NIHR Global Health, INPREP is an international project that aims to support the delivery of interventions to optimise nutrition before, during and shortly after pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).  The Southampton group was one of 20 in the UK in 2018 to be awarded a total of £40 million in funding through the NIHR’s Global Health Research Programme, which aims to deliver measurable benefits to patients and the public in low- and middle-income countries.

Contacts: Prof Marie-Louise Newell, Prof Keith GodfreyDr Kate WardProf Mary Barker, Dr Sarah Kehoe

Useful links:  Southampton Biomedical Research Centre ; University of Southampton Global Health Research Institute

 

TALENT

Our researchers with particular expertise in adolescent health, are leading a consortium of international academics and practitioners to conduct major population-based nutrition research in diverse low to middle income settings.

There are around 1.8 billion adolescents around the world who account for a quarter of the population in many countries. There is little understanding of their specific health needs, because of a traditional focus on improving health earlier in childhood. There is growing evidence, however, to suggest that adolescence is a critical time during a person’s development and could be an ideal opportunity to change the trajectory of a person’s health into early adult years and beyond.

The Transforming Adolescents Lives through Nutrition (TALENT) consortium aims to fill the large knowledge gaps about the dietary behaviour, food security, nutritional status and physical activity of adolescents in low to middle income settings, the factors that influence these and how they change through the course of adolescence.

The team is developing and assessing context-specific interventions to improve adolescent nutrition, engaging with adolescents themselves, their communities, and policy-makers to ensure impact and scalability. They are also building within-country capacity for quantitative and qualitative nutrition research, and intervention development, in the adolescent age group.

Useful links: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/global-health/research/talent

Contacts: Prof Caroline Fall,  Prof Mary Barker,  Dr Polly Hardy-Johnson;

 

Uthando Lwethu Project
Uthando Lwethu Project
Image credit: Prof Nuala McGrath
Image credit: Prof Nuala McGrath

Couples HEalth Research and InterventionS (CHERISH) programme 

More than two-thirds of all HIV-infected adults worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and there were more than 1.17 million new HIV infections in SSA in 2017.  In the rural province KwaZulu-Natal, approximately 30% of all adults are living with HIV. The majority of men and women of reproductive age are in heterosexual monogamous sexual partnerships; not all know their HIV status and not all disclose their HIV status to their sexual partner.

An initial study, Uthando Lwethu (“our love” in Zulu), carried out by the University of Southampton, was successful in encouraging couples to test for HIV together by providing group and couples counselling sessions that enhanced communication between partners. Couples can exercise a significant influence on each other’s health; partners might reinforce negative habits that lead to poor health, but with a shared understanding of each other’s goals and good communication skills, they can promote positive mutual support and improved health outcomes.

Couples-based studies are rarely carried out, and few-couples focused health interventions have been evaluated but initial the findings from Uthando Lwethu were very encouraging. Building on this research, working with the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of Cape Town, we have established the Couples HEalth Research and InterventionS (CHERISH) programme which aims to aims to continue couples-based studies to tackle the ongoing burden of HIV in SSA, and extend the development of couples-based interventions to diabetes, the second largest cause of death in South Africa. The Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2013-17 has set a target of a 30% increase in the percentage of patients with controlled diabetes by 2020. The CHERISH programme aims to play a part in this positive shift towards better health.

Additionally, the group aims to move the research agenda forward in SSA to include couples-focused studies for other health conditions, to develop capacity in SSA research sites for conducting couples-focused studies and to explore the opportunities for couples-focused interventions within the UK.

Contacts: Prof Nuala McGrath

Each-B
Each-B

Each-B

Our researchers are also looking at adolescent health and behaviours in the UK and bringing the results to the global health debate. The Engaging Adolescents in Changing Behaviour (Each-B) project is a £2.2million initiative which aims to motivate and support teenagers to eat better and exercise more.

The intervention being developed has three parts:  

  1. School students take part in LifeLab, a science module linked to the National Curriculum, which helps 12-13 year olds think about science and their health
  2. encouragement from teachers trained in skills to support students improve their diets and exercise
  3. a specially-designed, interactive smartphone app that involves friends and has game features

Our researchers are evaluating whether the intervention encourages behaviour changes in teenagers, whether it can work in schools and how cost effective it is.

Teenagers’ health needs are often ignored, and they can be difficult to engage in behaviour change. Building a cheap, sustainable way of engaging them in making healthier choices will benefit their health and that of their future children.

Contacts: Prof Mary Barker,   Prof Hazel Inskip

Useful links:  www.soton.ac.uk/lifelab 

 

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