26 August 2019

Thesis opportunities 2019/2020 for UCPH Master Students with the World Diabetes Foundation

As part of a long-standing partnership between the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) and the School of Global Health, Copenhagen University, WDF is offering a unique opportunity to new master students from Public Health, Global Health and the International Study Exposure - Global Public Health track at the Medical Programme to conduct their field work in relation to one of our WDF supported projects or partner or to use data produced by our projects or partners as research data for their master thesis.

The scholarship is offered under the umbrella of the Memorandum of Understanding between the School of Global Health and the World Diabetes Foundation. The purpose of the pre-graduate scholarship is to enable close interaction between ambitious students and the global health environment, and to give the students a chance to become immersed in relevant projects in developing countries. At the same time adding value in the local partner context.

Below, WDF have compiled a list of possible subjects of interest linked to our projects to give you an idea of possible research areas. You are also welcome to look through the WDF project portfolio on our website and bring a suggestion for a possible research area to our attention.

Scholarships are offered to Master Students from Public Health (30 ECTS thesis), Global Health (30 ECTS thesis) and International Study Exposure – Global Public Health track at the Medical Programme (25 ECTS thesis) who are: ambitious, self-driven, diplomatic, and able to work in an international and inter-cultural setting and share our interest in diabetes and its impact in low- and middle-income countries.

Your specific roles and tasks will be developed in collaboration with the relevant Programme Manager at WDF and with the relevant project responsible of our partner in the country of implementation. You should be willing to undertake a study/field visit to the country of implementation with the aim to get a better understanding of the project context and/or to gather further data. You will be responsible for preparing the field visit in terms of travel and accommodation etc., maintain contact with the partner organisation to agree further on how to gather data and apply for ethical clearance in country if needed.

After submitting your thesis, you will also be expected to submit a debriefing report to WDF which summarises key findings and recommendations and give a brief presentation of your findings to the relevant WDF Programme Managers.

As part of the scholarship, WDF offers the capacity of a secondary supervisor and you can apply for a scholarship of a lump sum (of maximum EUR 1,500) to cover airfares and accommodation during the study/field trip.

Please send a brief motivation letter (max. one page), your CV and transcript of grades to Kirza Buch Kristensen at kzbk@worlddiabetesfoundation.org

In advance you are required to identify a primary supervisor at UCPH and inform about this in your letter.

About the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF):

The World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) is a philanthropic foundation set up by Novo Nordisk A/S in 2002 as a self-governing, independent foundation, dedicated to supporting prevention and treatment of diabetes in developing countries. WDF is one of the few funding mechanisms dedicated to prevention and treatment of diabetes in LMIC and to date WDF has supported the implementation of more than 550 projects in 116 countries. WDF is working through grant giving; we react to and stimulate applications for funding of projects and we support projects which are demand driven, formulated and implemented by national or local partners. Yet, WDF is more than a grant giving foundation as we actively engage with our implementing partners; we strive to contribute to good practice in the integration of diabetes/NCDs into existing health service delivery platforms and we encourage a multisector approach to tackling diabetes and other NCDs. Our projects have a particular focus on prevention, enhancing access to care, providing capacity development, health systems strengthening and advocacy related to diabetes care and NCDs more broadly. See more at http://www.worlddiabetesfoundation.org

Below, WDF have compiled a list of possible subjects of interest linked to our projects to give you an idea of possible research areas.

1. Gestational diabetes - use of FIGO guidelines:

FIGO is the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, bringing together professional societies of obstetricians and gynaecologists from 130 countries. FIGO has identified Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) as a priority area for their work with and in 2013 an expert group was established to develop and disseminate an evidence based, practical and pragmatic standards of care protocol for national associations to adopt and promote a uniform approach to testing, diagnosis and management of GDM for all countries and regions based on their financial, human and infrastructure resources. The overall aim was the advancement of women’s reproductive health and rights, promotion of newborn and child health and prevention of type 2 diabetes & other NCD. The result of the expert group was the presentation of a new global set of guidelines on diagnosis, management and care of gestational diabetes in the October 2015.

WDF have urged our partners in different countries to use the FIGO guidelines in the diagnosis, management and care of GDM. We would therefore be interested in a study to evaluate the usage and outcomes of the FIGO guidelines in different regions, for example in a comparative study (a country in Asia vs a country in Africa). This would be foreseen as a desk study to be hosted at WDF.

2. Gestational diabetes project in India

General project information:

Project title Capacity Building for Prevention of Complications of Gestational Diabetes in the Public Health System, India (WDF15-951)
Grant USD 325,000
Duration 3 years
Project partner Jain Hospital, co-funder National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)
Objective To strengthen detection and management of gestational diabetes in the public health care system of Uttar Pradesh state, India

Project description:

The project has consolidated, refined and expanded the detection and management of GDM in 28 out of 75 districts of the Uttar Pradesh through the following activities:

Capacity building through the upgrading of health care facilities for GDM screening, diagnosis, prevention, and management; training of trainers (TOT) by national level master trainers and training of HCPs (including doctors, nurses, dieticians) from all upgraded health care facilities in prevention and management of GDM. Care and follow-up of women with GDM through of universal screening of pregnant women for GDM in urban, semi-urban and rural areas and post-partum screening after delivery were rolled out. Counselling and monitoring for women at risk of GDM and care and treatment for women diagnosed with GDM has been followed up and awareness were raised through the organization of community-based diabetes camps to remote areas, production of material in print and electronic media. Interventions by field block monitors in all 1.237 health care facilities in all 28 districts were continuously monitored and supervised. State and district level workshops were organised involving high level key health officials and District Chief Medical Officers, doctors from community health centers, urban health center and districts hospitals.

The partner has good data available and a very structured approach to working with diabetes care which could provide the basis for a study of the management of GDM in a low income setting in India.

 3. Pre-conception counselling – Bangladesh

General project information:

Project title Capacity Building for Prevention of Complications of Gestational Diabetes in the Public Health System, India (WDF15-951)
Grant USD 231,792
Duration 2 years
Project partner

Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (BADAS)

Objective To strengthen pre-conception care and counselling on diabetes and NCDs in Bangladesh through capacity building in the health system and among religious leaders, Bangladesh

Project description:

The project focused on poor rural and urban women and newly married couples. A 6-member expert advisory committee was established and included specialists within diabetes, gynaecology, nutrition, a member of the association of Kazis and representation from relevant ministries. Culturally and religiously appropriate material concerning health before pregnancy has been developed and a curriculum for the training of 400 religious leaders about pre-conception, family planning, diabetes incl. risk factors, screening, GDM and other NCDs, lifestyle counselling and immunization. A curriculum for 300 health care personnel was also developed which included pre-conception counselling and family planning, DM/GDM management, risk factors, screening, lifestyle measures, immunization and anthropometric measurements and referral. To ensure service delivery, 50 pre-conception services and counselling were established at hospitals and clinics. Screenings, care and referrals by trained health care personnel were organized and the trained religious leaders have organized a pre-conception counselling. Awareness activities regarding pre-conception counselling and prevention of NCDs incl. diabetes has been organized and a website for preconception care and prevention of NCDs has been developed as well as a mobile help-line that also includes antenatal care.

The approach and activities of the WDF supported project has now been lifted up to national policy level and is further carried forward in t a new WDF supported project ( WDF17-1552). A study on the impact pre-conception counselling on the women and new couples is suggested in collaboration with the local partner BADAS.

4. Patient education and the effect of self-support groups

WDF have supported several projects which includes components of patient education and self-management through the strengthening or establishment of self-support groups for diabetes patients. We have supported projects with Red Cross in Armenien, Georgien and Help Age in Kyrgyzstan. See examples below:

General project information:

Project title Diabetes prevention and self-care education for vulnerable, Armenia(WDF15-1308)
Grant EUR 51,767
Duration 2 years
Project partner Danish and Armenian Red Cross
Objective To improve awareness and prevention of diabetes though capacity building of HCPs and establishment of self-support groups (SSGs) in 20 urban and rural areas in the Ararat region.

Project description:

The project focus was to increase awareness of SSG initiative and establish a linkage to primary care facilities in 20 urban and rural areas in the Ararat region - a region with high poverty and morbidity rates. The projects activities were to educate and develop training material, to sensitize key health personal, training of doctors and ARCS volunteers in basic diabetes diagnostics, screening and prevention followed by a subsequent training in diabetes self-management and facilitation of SSGs, including study visit to SSGs in Georgia. Training of nurses from 12 health facilities in diabetes self-management and facilitation of SSGs have also been carried out jointly with the second module of the ARCS volunteers training to establish collaboration between primary care facilities and SSGs. Establishment of SSGs in the urban and rural areas to support diabetes patients and people at risk of diabetes in diabetes self-care and healthy living, including sensitisation of family members have also been established. The project has raised awareness on diabetes and healthy living for more than 100,000 people.

General project information:

Project title Improved control of diabetes in remote areas in Kvemo Kartli region, Georgia (WDF17-1471)
Grant EUR 377,673
Duration 3 years
Project partner Georgia Red Cross Society (GRCS)
Objective To improve diabetes care and prevention in four districts of Georgia.

Project description:

This project aims to improve diabetes prevention and care in four districts of Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia. The focus is on primary prevention of diabetes and secondary prevention in terms of prevention of complications. Finally, the project will seek to strengthen collaboration with national stakeholders and key decision makers in order to advocate for better diabetes prevention and care. The access to diabetes care will be improved through development of training guidelines in consultation with health authorities for health care professionals for the management of diabetes. It will build the capacity of Georgian Red Cross volunteers and community volunteers in terms of screening, prevention, behavior change and referral of diabetes patients. Secondly, it will improve access to diabetes care (screening, patient education, treatment of complications and referral of patients with complications) through a) capacity building of doctors (GPs, endocrinologists and obstetricians) in diabetes management and care and b) deployment of health mobile unit in villages without health facilities. Community awareness campaigns will be rolled out as well as community events, door-to-door visits to detect people at risk, and media campaigns. The project will establish diabetes self-support groups for new and known diabetes patients, facilitated by trained Georgian Red Cross Society volunteers. The groups will be assisted with regard to self-management of diabetes. Links will be made between the groups and the primary health care facilities. National and local authorities, CSOs and media will be sensitised on diabetes in order to advocate for better access to health services and care for diabetes patients.

General project information:

Project title Enhancing Diabetes and self-management, Kyrgyzstan (WDF14-899)
Grant EUR 264,866
Duration 3 years
Project partner Help Age International (HAI)
Objective The project focus is to reduce prevalence of, improve care for and strengthen self-management by people with diabetes in four regions.

Project description:

The project activities has strengthened and expanded self-help groups (SHGs) consisting of people with diabetes in four regions. The SHGs are responsible for sensitizing school children on risk factors and prevention of diabetes and for sensitizing and screening high-risk individuals for diabetes. Training of doctors and nurses in diabetes clinics have been conducted on diabetes screening and management with close links to SHGs. Doctors are also trained using ToT (Training of Trainers) approach. Three new diabetes schools are established at regional hospitals providing formal diabetes education to patients with links to SHGsin the community and media campaigns raising awareness were conducted for wider public and political advocacy sensitizing more than 40,000 people with diabetes on diabetes management, self-care and their rights as patients, and high-risk individuals on healthy living.

These project are examples of support to patient education and self-management through the strengthening or establishment of self-support groups for diabetes patients and it could be interesting to look into the effect of the patient education and self support groups on the self management and control of diabetes for the patients. Russian language would be an advantage for interested candidates.

5. Use of digital health in diabetes eye care in Armenia

General project information:

Project title Preventing blindness from diabetic retinopathy, Republic of Armenia (WDF16-1353)
Grant USD 198,992
Duration 3 years
Project partner Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP)
Objective To improve access to DR screening and care for type 1 and 2 diabetes patients in underserved areas of Armenia

Project description:

The project focus is to prevent the need for complicated surgical eye treatments for diabetes patients. The program will enable the partner to identify diabetes-related eye diseases at an early stage which will result in better outcomes for the patient and contribute to the prevention of blindness caused by diabetes-related eye diseases. The quality of care will be enhanced through capacity building at primary and secondary level. Health care personnel incl. doctors, nurses, endocrinologists and ophthalmologists from all regions of Armenia will receive training on diabetes and diabetes eye care. The quality of care will also be enhanced through upgrading of equipment incl. ophthalmoscopes and smartphone devices at primary level for outreach activities; fundus cameras and lasers installed at regional eye care clinics to provide better treatment. Detection of patients with retinopathy will be improved through roll out of routine DR screenings in primary clinics by regional ophthalmologists and roll out of screening camps in underserved, poor villages in each region; known DM patients and at-risk patients has been referred to DR screening. Detected cases will be referred for care and follow-up at regional eye clinics or mobile eye clinics. Specialised care incl. laser and surgery to be provided in the regions. Sensitisation and awareness will be enhanced through training of Community Health Workers as diabetes educators, and advocacy and awareness raising events to promote inclusion of diabetes eye care into national diabetes strategy.

WDF would be interested in a study on how the eye care project has used digital health in the implementation of the programme. What has been the results and barriers and what is the impact on the services provided to the patients.

6. Strengthening of GDM management in Uzbekistan

General project information:

Project title Strategy of prevention and monitoring of gestational diabetes in Uzbekistan (WDF16-1371)
Grant EUR 325,000
Duration 3 years
Project partner Charity public association of persons with disabilities and people with Diabetes Mellitus (UMID)
Objective To introduce a standardised model for early diagnostics and management of GDM in Uzbekistan

Project description:

This nationwide coverage project represents a co-partnership with the UMID and the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan to develop a model for detection, care of women with GDM, based on FIGO guidelines and has targeted twelve regions of Uzbekistan. During phase 1 seminars were organized to train GPs and specialized teams in six regions targeting the improvement of primary and secondary prevention and early diagnostics of IGT and diabetes in rural population. Diabetes screening rooms were established and equipped to become central district polyclinics in the six regions. Questionnaires for risk assessment of diabetes were developed and used by rural populations, and people detected to be at-risk with IGT and/or diabetes were referred to the diabetes screening rooms, where a trained team was trained to provide more in-depth consultations and services. Furthermore, six regional endocrine laboratories were equipped with analysers for glycated haemoglobin, microalbuminuria and lipid measurements to control for diabetes regulation in rural population with DM including early detection of IGT and DM. A computer database of patients with IGT and DM type 2 diagnosed in the six pilot regions were set up. A specialised mobile unit was equipped to carry out screenings for IGT and DM complications in a risk group in order to compare the results obtained with people in an existing DM register. Wider outreach activities on diabetes prevention was carried out in rural populations incl. by the development and distribution of materials concerning diabetes and NCDs, as well as through video short-films targeting rural people. Large-scale coverage through mass-media was also implemented. Finally, regional stakeholder meetings were held aimed at the development of a diabetes/NCD prevention strategy to be adopted into a nationwide NCD response. Through the second phase the main focus was on integrating hyperglycemia in pregnancy/NCDs and pregnancy services into existing clinical structures. Endocrinologists, gynecologists and obstetricia.