Multi-national consortium led by Trinity College to carry out major EU Framework Programme 7-funded study into environmental change and health in eastern Africa
A consortium of Europe- and Africa-based researchers has successfully secured a major research grant under the Environment and Health Sub-activity of the European Union’s Framework 7 Programme. The research project, led by David Taylor, Professor of Geography in the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College, seeks to better understand links between environmental (including climate) changes and outbreaks of water-related, vector-borne diseases (VBDs) in Africa. Targeting three VBDs (malaria, Rift Valley Fever and schistosomiasis) that currently have a crippling impact on human and animal health and livelihoods in many parts of Africa, the research project (‘Health, environmental change and adaptive capacity: mapping, examining and anticipating future risks of water-related vector-borne diseases in eastern Africa’) is scheduled to run for four years goes under the acronym ‘HEALTHY FUTURES’.
This is the first time that Professor Taylor has coordinated a major research project under the European Union’s Framework Programme, although he has previously contributed to European Union-funded research projects as a consortium member. Despite now having responsibility for the activities of researchers based in a consortium comprising 15 institutions dispersed through Europe and Africa, David claimed to be “very excited at the prospect of being centrally involved in the HEALTHY FUTURES project”. He is also “extremely grateful for all the help received to date from Deirdre Caden and her colleagues in College’s Research and Innovation Office, from staff in the School of Natural Sciences, from other consortium members and from Enterprise Ireland, who made available a small grant to enable completion of the application”.
David went on to say that “The health effects of environmental change should be of major concern for the global community. The effects will be felt most acutely among the poorest members of society, who already carry a disproportionately high share of the costs of environmental change impacts. Environmental change will impact health in a multitude of ways. The impacts may be direct, in terms of outbreaks of disease among human populations, or indirect, for example in the form of outbreaks of diseases that affect domesticated animals or plants, and therefore jeopardise food security, agriculture-based economic activities and trade.
This concern provides the motivation for HEATHLY FUTURES. The research aims to build a disease risk mapping system for three water-related high-impact VBDs, accounting for environmental/climatic trends to predict future risk. Concentrating on eastern Africa as a study area, and working directly with member states of the recently expanded East African Community (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania), the research involves a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary consortium of health, environment, socio-economic and climate experts in addition to staff in government health departments.”
David wrote a large part of the HEALTHY FUTURES proposal while on research sabbatical at the National University of Rwanda. You can read about his experiences in Rwanda here