Research hub to be set up in Bangladesh

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The US National Institutes of Health has awarded icddr,b and the University of Chicago a five-year paired grant to establish a regional research and training hub to explore emerging environmental and occupational health threats.

Research teams from icddr,b and the University of Chicago will establish a research hub in Bangladesh, called the Bangladesh Center for Global Environmental and Occupational Health, to study the health impacts of household air pollution from burning biomass fuels, like wood or dung. They will also explore the adverse health effects associated with climate change and working in garments factories.

The regional hub, with offices at icddr,b in Dhaka and f
ield sites in rural Matlab and Araihazar, will serve as a network for researchers from a number of institutions in Bangladesh and internationally to collaborate in research and training.

The grant is worth US$ 1.5 million over five years and was awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States as part of its Fogarty International Center Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) programme.

Almost 3.5 million annual deaths and 110 million disability-adjusted life years worldwide were linked to household air pollution caused by burning biomass fuel in 2010, according to a Global Burden of Disease report.

These deaths are mostly related to the damaging impact indoor air pollution can have on the heart and lungs, but there are also linknih-logo-blues to pregnancy complications, low birthweight and certain cancers.

Dr Mohammad Yunus, a consultant and senior scientist at icddr,b and the principal investigator of the project, says that low- and middle-in
come countries like Bangladesh are at high risk for environmental health threats where as much as 85 per cent of the population burns biomass fuel indoors.

“There is currently very little evidence available on the effects that household air pollution can have on the health of low-income populations, especially cardio
pulmonary outcomes in developing countries.

There is a great need for epidemiological studies that explore this issue,” said Dr Yunus.

The GEOHealth programme is coordinated and partially funded by the Fogarty International Center at the NIH in collaboration with partner organisations from the United States and Canada. The US and Canadian partners will invest a total of US$ 21 million for the establishment of seven environmental and occupational GEOHealth hubs in low- and middle-income countries.

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