Section for Global Health Research

The Section for Global Health conducts research studies aimed at reducing premature death from non-communicable chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Cardiovascular Disease Research

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing an epidemic of cardiovascular disease, driven by rapidly increasing rates of high blood pressure, or hypertension. Patients face barriers to managing the condition, including poor access to care and high out-of-pocket costs. And, while the region bears 24 percent of the global disease burden, it has only three percent of the global health workforce. Given these limited resources, the Section for Global Health is implementing and evaluating the World Health Organization task shifting strategy, a cost-effective approach to the physician shortage that trains nurses and other health workers to assess hypertension and provide education and behavioral counseling.

Uptake of Task-Shifting Strategy for Blood Pressure Control in Community Health Planning Services: A Mixed Method Study

Our five-year Uptake of Task-Shifting for Blood Pressure Control in Community Health Planning Services study, based in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana, is working with the Ghana Health Service to evaluate a “task-shifting” strategy to train 70 community health officers (CHO) in Community-based Health Planning Service (CHPS) zones, to help adults control hypertension. CHOs will provide door-to door hypertension management for community members within designated zones or areas in the Brong-Ahafo region. This program was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Lung and Blood Institute and will run from 2017-2022. Trial registration information will soon be available on ClinicalTrials.gov.

Task Shifting and Blood Pressure Control in Ghana: A Cluster-Randomized Trial

For our Task Shifting and Blood Pressure Control in Ghana study, we worked with the Ghana Health Service to train nurses in the Ashanti region of Ghana’s health centers and district hospitals to work with patients to manage high blood pressure. This was a five-year grant (2012-2017) funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. We are currently evaluating the results. Trial registration information is available on ClinicalTrials.gov; Number NCT01802372.

Oncology Research

Seventy percent of the 8.8 billion global cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization. Women in these countries are disproportionally impacted, constituting 85 percent of cervical cancer cases and deaths, according to the Lancet. Cervical cancer is largely a preventable disease, yet deaths are expected to continue to rise, and by 2030, 95 percent will occur in low and middle-income countries. The Section for Global Health works to improve global cancer control research and policy by conducting population health intervention research and advocating for policy change.

Seeking Care for Breast Health in Bangladesh: An mHealth Model to Increase Clinic Attendance

In the Seeking Care for Breast Health in Bangladesh study based in the rural Khulna Division of Bangladesh, we found that it is effective to equip community health workers with smart phones and train them in “patient navigation” to promote breast health and clinical breast examinations for women. The study was led by Ophira Ginsburg, MD, MSc.

Smartphone-Based Training among Health Care Works Screening for Cervical Cancer in Northern Tanzania

In the Smartphone-Based Training among Health Care Works Screening for Cervical Cancer study based in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania, we found that it was feasible and effective to train non-physician providers to screen 1,072 eligible women using a smartphone camera and use of cervical image transfer to enhance cervical cancer screening providers. The study was led by Karen Yeates, MD, MPH and Ophira Ginsburg, MD, MSc.