Global health experts gather in Edinburgh to kick off multi-million pound research programme

By Press Office

Experts in global health from Lebanon and Sierra Leone will join colleagues at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh later this month to mark the start of a new research programme aimed at improving care and treatment in countries with health systems impacted by conflict.

The Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD) at QMU is recognised as a world leader in two major areas of research – health systems and mental health provision. Countries affected by war, civil unrest and the impact of the refugee crisis present huge challenges to the delivery of vital mental health care services and treatment for non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Funded by a £3.5 million research grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), IGHD will collaborate throughout the four-year programme with fellow researchers at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) at the University of Sierra Leone, and the Global Health Institute at the American University of Beirut. They will look at ways of strengthening the resilience of health workers and clinics, and the work of local community groups, to develop new ways of providing vital services in even the most fragile of circumstances.

Professor Alastair Ager, Director of QMU’s Institute for Global Health and Development, said: “This event is the first time all collaborators on this important project will gather in one place and we will set out our research priorities for the years ahead. We will be taking very seriously our responsibilities as a UK centre-of-excellence for research in fragile situations, where health needs are so pressing”.

According to the World Health Organisation, heart attacks, strokes, cancers and diabetes kill 38 million people a year and most of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Mental health issues create a huge burden of suffering in countries troubled by instability. A preliminary report suggests less than 1% of mental health needs are currently being met by services in Sierra Leone.

The NIHR Research Unit on Health in Situations of Fragility has launched a web resource which will become a hub of information on the programme as it moves forward.



Notes to Editor

For further information contact:

Maggie Wright Tel: 07801 710360 Email:

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR):

The NIHR: improving the health and wealth of the nation through research.

Established by the Department of Health, the NIHR:

  • funds high quality research to improve health
  • trains and supports health researchers
  • provides world-class research facilities
  • works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
  • involves patients and the public at every step
  • For further information, visit the National Institute for Health and Care Research website

This call for research was commissioned by the National Institute of Health Research using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health.

Queen Margaret University’s Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD)

The Institute for Global Health and Development is a multidisciplinary centre for postgraduate education and research addressing contemporary health and development challenges in low and middle-income countries and their connection to global systems and trends.

Further information about IGHD 


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