Large grant for research on improved alert of epidemics in fragile states – University of Copenhagen

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26 April 2018

Large grant for research on improved alert of epidemics in fragile states

Associate professor and Head of Department Helle Samuelsen has received a 10 million DKK research grant from Danida. The project aims to improve Burkina Faso's local health systems and ensure greater involvement of locals in order to reduce the risk of international epidemics.

With more than 11,000 deaths, the ebola eruption in West Africa from 2014-2016 became a major and sudden challenge for the international health service. The outbreak was a reminder that, from a health perspective, the world is only as safe as the most fragile states.

In the wake of the outbreak, there were a number of studies focused on the international health service, but only a few studies have examined the importance of strengthening health systems at a local level and with the involvement of locals.

Associate professor and Head of Department Helle Samuelsen has received a 10 million DKK grant from Danida to examine how involvement of locals can strengthen the local health system and early registration of potential new epidemics.

Helle Samuelsen’s research will take place in Burkina Faso. The aim of the project is to improve local health systems and thereby reduce the risk of new outbreaks of international epidemics. One of different ways to carry this out will be by investigating the significance of ethical and cultural sensitive communication to promptly detect outbreaks of highly contagious diseases.

Among the world's most fragile countries

Burkina Faso has around 18 million inhabitants and is situated in the politically fragile West Africa, close to three countries affected by the Ebola outbreak in 2014-16. Being number 185 out of the 188 countries on the UN’s Human Development Indeks, the country has great social, economic, and environmental issues. Around 80 % of the population live out in the country, where access to healthcare is limited. This means that the country is particularly in danger of an epidemic. Therefore, it is important to understand how to ensure a fragile country like Burkina Faso in the best possible way against epidemics, which, due to widespread poverty, can rapidly evolve and spread to other countries.

The project: "EMERGING EPIDEMICS: Improving preparedness in Burkina Faso" has received a grant of 9.997.249 DKK, and runs up to and includes 2023.