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St Andrews awarded new funding in the fight against tuberculosis

Tuesday 19 January 2016

TWENDE-Sabiiti-mainbody

The University of St Andrews has been awarded a 440,000 euro “twende” project funded by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

In Swahili, “twende” is a word used to encourage one another to move forward. Supported by the European Union, the project aims to understand and overcome the barriers to the implementation of better tuberculosis diagnostics.

Tuberculosis is a chronic chest infection that kills nearly 2 million people worldwide every year.  In a resource poor environment, diagnosis is difficult and it takes many months to get results back.

New diagnostics are being developed but few have been implemented yet in the areas where people need them the most. Twende will create a platform to translate research innovations into policy and practice.  It will focus on three East African countries, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, who are increasingly working together to solve their health problems.

The study is being led by Dr Wilber Sabiiti (pictured) and Professor Stephen Gillespie at the University of St Andrews, along with partners in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. They will work closely with the East African Health Research Commission (EAHRC) and national TB control programmes of each partner country.

Professor Gillespie said: “Twende gives us a great new opportunity to work with our African partners to explore and overcome the barriers that prevent implementation of promising clinical developments.”

Dr Sabiiti said: “Africa is moving forward and Twende is here to support this move by creating a platform that unlocks barriers and increases access to healthcare innovations by people who most need it.”

Twende will evaluate the extent of the implementation of two WHO approved molecular diagnostics and explore how to implement the rapid MYcobacterial Treatment Response Assay (MYTRA) developed by the University of St Andrews.

It will also assess the benefits of these methods to the health care system and gauge the attitude of health care staff and administrators to the funding of these tests, seek both local and international avenues to unravel the impediments to a wider uptake of effective TB diagnostics and engage policy makers to accelerate the uptake of research innovations.

The impact of this study is expected to be far-reaching, with findings applicable not only to TB but to the entire health care system.


Notes to news editors

This project is part of the EDCTP2 programme supported by the European Union.

The project will bring together seven institutions: the University of St Andrews (UK), the Makerere University College of Health Sciences (Uganda), the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (Tanzania), the Mbeya Medical Research Centre (Tanzania), the Kenya Medical Research Institute Centre for Respiratory Diseases Research, the East African Health Research Commission (EAHRC) and CPAR Uganda Ltd, a community development organization.

Dr Sabiiti and Professor Gillespie are available for interview. Contact Communications Office.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 467310 or proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.