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Fogarty launches GEOHealth environmental and occupational research and training hubs

September / October 2012 | Volume 11, Issue 5

young girl in foreground carries plastic jug of water from muddy water source, woman and older girl in background fill jugs
Photo by Greg Allgood/Photoshare

Fogarty's new program is intended to curb
environmental and occupational illnesses
in developing countries.

Contaminated air, water, soil and food remain a major cause of untold numbers of illnesses around the world each year. The problem is particularly acute in developing countries, where exposures to indoor air pollution from cooking fires, pesticides, radiation, tainted water and climate change contribute to nearly a quarter of all deaths and illnesses. In addition, workers globally face many occupational risks such as injuries and contact with hazardous conditions.

Many low-resource countries lack the expertise to study the linkages between these risk factors and disease. To rectify this, Fogarty is launching the Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) program, in partnership with the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

GEOHealth is intended to create regional hubs for collaborative research, data management, training and policy support regarding environmental and occupational health research in low- and middle-income countries.

To support planning for the hubs, $3.2 million is being awarded in two-year grants for activities in more than 15 countries. Each hub will be managed by a pair of institutions - one from the U.S. and one from the host country - with both receiving direct awards.

View of a city from far away and high up on a mountain, air is hazy, showing pollution
Photo by Richard Lord

Planning grants from Fogarty's GEOHealth program
will fund 16 new research centers across the globe,
including a project focused on air pollution in
Ethiopia.

The GEOHealth projects cover a wide range of topics that build on existing strengths within the consortia and tackle local priority health needs. The planning grants will allow partners to conduct needs and opportunities assessments, prepare for policy-relevant research and training, and foster partnerships that can be sustained through the program's next phase. The multidisciplinary centers will lead collaborative research and training in fields such as epidemiology, biostatistics, genetics, environmental science, industrial hygiene, systems science, toxicology, behavioral science and implementation science.

A hub in Bangladesh will focus on water contamination, indoor air pollution caused by cooking and heating fuels, and urban smog. A consortium in Ethiopia will target not only indoor and outdoor air quality, but also climate change and occupational health with an emphasis on agriculture. Meanwhile, in Uganda, food safety and hygiene, water quality, work-related injuries and health worker exposure to biological contaminants are the subjects of interest.

In the remote and heavily deforested jungle of Peru's Alto Mayo region, a multidisciplinary team will study the quality and safety of traditional medicines prepared from native plants, among other subjects. A collaborative effort in Suriname will examine the effects of environmental contamination on indigenous medicinal plants and the detrimental impact of gold mining on fish and other local food sources.

More Information

2012 GEOHealth Hubs Planning Grants

Access full details for each of the GEOHealth Hubs planning grant awards in NIH RePORTER.

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