The goal of this application is to develop a global environmental and occupational health (GEOHealth) program in two years, which would act as a center for environmental and occupational health (EOH) research and training in Eastern Africa. EOH problems are particularly acute in Uganda and Eastern Africa, where the field has lagged far behind most middle income countries due to a lack of political and public awareness. Food contamination and hygiene, water pollution, work-related injuries, and health professional exposures to biological hazards are associated with significant health and disease burdens. EOH professionals are critically needed to address to growing issues, including the understanding of baseline levels of disease and contaminants, in Uganda and Eastern Africa region. This application will be coordinated between University of Georgia (UGA) and Makerere University (MakU). Faculty at UGA College of Public Health (UGACPH) has a long track record of working with Uganda investigators at the MakU School of Public Health (MakSPH). Both UGACPH and MakSPH have a good team of faculty members engaged in EOH teaching and research. This application is also built on an existing UGACPH-MakSPH collaborative research and training program in infectious diseases prevention and control, funded by Fogarty International Center, NIH. We will focus on three areas of interest: 1) food hygiene (food safety and Contamination), 2) water quality (water sanitation, pollution with chemicals and microbes in water supplies), and 3) occupational health and safety (work-related injuries and health professional exposure to biological hazards). We have chosen these three areas of focus because they are identified as urgent needs in Uganda and Eastern Africa.
The specific aims i nclude: (1) to conduct needs and opportunities assessment of EOH priorities in Uganda and Eastern Africa Region;to assemble network partners for development of a training hub;and to identify needs for capacity building for EOH professionals and laboratories and (2) to develop and evaluate research priorities agenda and to conduct pilot study projects in the three focal areas of interest.
The creation of a world-class international collaborative center for GEOHealth that can meet the challenges of a changing world and to support exploratory activities that strengthen EOH research, training, curriculum development and policy support in Eastern Africa, which will be highly relevant to global public health. The outcome of this proposal will be to lay a solid foundation on improving public health in the East Africa.