Dr Suzanne Bartington (Clinical Research Fellow and Specialty Registrar in Public Health) travelled to Kigali, Rwanda, in January 2018 to establish a new research partnership with the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology (UR-CST).
The visit, supported by a Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) Global Mobility award, provided an opportunity to advise a locally funded two-year research programme investigating the maternal and child health impact of household air pollution (HAP) associated with biomass fuel cooking.
Reducing the health harms associated with HAP exposure is a key development priority in Rwanda, a densely populated country undergoing rapid economic development, social transition and urbanisation.
The study will generate pilot data concerning kitchen pollutant levels and socio-cultural determinants of domestic cooking practices. Suzanne plans to strengthen the partnership to develop local research capacity, providing skills training for UR-CST MSc Environmental Health and Engineering students in air quality monitoring techniques and generate pilot data concerning kitchen pollutant levels and cooking practices to support an interdisciplinary funding proposal for development of a low-cost, modified cookstove intervention.
The programme supports an expanding global health research portfolio with Professor Neil Thomas and Dr Francis Pope (School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences), investigating environmental disease burden and intervention development in Low and Middle Income settings, including the £1.2m East Africa Research Fund ‘A Systems Approach to Air Pollution’ award.
A Global Challenges Research Fund PhD Studentship to support development of modelling tools for assessment of the health, economic and environmental impact of proposed cookstove interventions in Rwanda is currently open for application through FindAPhD (deadline 23 March 2018).