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Otago global health researchers to tackle fevers in Asia

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Monday, 11 July 2016

John Crump image
Professor John Crump, Co-Director of the Centre for International Health

A coalition of experts on tropical infectious diseases led by the University of Otago’s Professor John Crump, Co-Director of the Centre for International Health, has secured around NZD $450,000 to study causes of fever and how patients with fever are managed in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

The New Zealand research team includes Professor David Murdoch from the Department of Pathology, University of Otago, Christchurch, and Dr James Ussher from the University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) is funding the project through the e-ASIA Joint Research Program (e-ASIA JRP).

The e-ASIA JRP is a coalition of national research funding institutions from 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and eight East Asia Summit participating countries, including New Zealand. Projects are required to be multilateral and to promote collaboration, innovation, and support economic development in the East Asian Region.

“New Zealand’s health research investment has traditionally been intensely focused on domestic health concerns,” says Professor Crump.

“However, in a highly interconnected world, infectious disease problems are easily spread from one place to another. International collaboration is essential to find solutions to these threats.

“It is gratifying that the HRC has joined the e-ASIA JRP to help tackle infectious disease problems of joint interest with our neighbours. We hope that this small step leads to growing opportunities for New Zealand health experts to collaborate on research of relevance to development and global health security.”

The project brings world-leading infectious diseases expertise to bear on the problem of fever, a common reason to seek healthcare in both Myanmar and the Lao PDR.

The researchers will study treatable and preventable causes of fever in Myanmar, identifying ways to improve fever management in both Myanmar and Lao PDR.

Research in Myanmar will be led by Professor Wah Win Htike, Head, Department of Microbiology at University of Medicine 1, and in Lao PDR by Professor Paul Newton and Associate Professor Mayfong Mayxay at Mahosot Hospital and the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit.

Dr Tin Ohn Myat, a University of Otago PhD student from Myanmar, is enrolling patients with fever admitted to Yangon General Hospital. Complex diagnostic tests for causes of fever will be done in collaboration with the group in Lao PDR who has access to outstanding facilities through their collaboration with Oxford University.

The University of Otago and Myanmar’s first medical school, University of Medicine 1, developed a strategic collaboration in 2012.

“From a small development grant three years ago and a large investment of time and effort by many since, the Myanmar collaboration is now attracting a growing portfolio of external research funding,” says Professor Crump.

“Above all, we are able to work together across an expanding range of disciplines to help address some of Myanmar’s most pressing health concerns while developing future research leaders through postgraduate education.”

For more information, contact:

Professor John Crump, Co-Director
Centre for International Health
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 9460
Email john.crump@otago.ac.nz

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