The UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST) co-led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Public Health England (PHE) was established to provide rapid support to low and middle-income countries responding to disease outbreaks around the world, to support the development of the operational capacity to prevent and control epidemics, and to work collaboratively with partners on research.

Our research is designed to improve response to epidemics and epidemic-prone diseases, prevent and prepare for future epidemics, and better control current outbreaks. UK-PHRST research work may focus on operations (i.e. designed to improve effectiveness or efficiency of an intervention or activity) or be disease-specific, intended to increase understanding of the characteristics, driving factors, and effective mitigations of outbreak-prone diseases. The priority throughout is to produce outcomes that have a clear utility for outbreak response and/or relevance for outbreak-affected populations.  

Four recent reserach projects were presented at the "UK Public Health Rapid Support Team: Latest research & scientific insights" webinar on 25th March 2021:

1. Collaborative supervision of a healthcare worker study in Uganda

Speaker: Marina Kugler, International Project Administrator, University of Glasgow

Partners: Kagando Mission Hospital, Bwera General Hospital, Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Uganda Research Unit (MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit), Glasgow University, and the UK-PHRST

Description: Marina Kugler and partners will reflect on the preparation, execution and supervision of their research project “Strengthening viral haemorrhagic fever preparedness in Uganda by serosurveillance of healthcare workers” when COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented field visits by UK partners, and describe the importance of collaboration and communication in developing remote supervision and support mechanisms. 

2.  A COVID-19 seroprevalence study in a large refugee camp setting

Speaker: David Kennedy (Data Scientist, UK-PHRST)

Partners: The Bangladesh Institute of Epidemiology and Disease Control Research (IEDCR) with support from WHO, UNHCR and partners, including the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS/IFRC). 

Description: The Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh host approximately 860,000 people; the majority of whom fled Myanmar in late 2017. The first case of COVID-19 in the camps was confirmed in May 2020 but despite the presence of multiple factors which would facilitate the rapid transmission of SARS-CoV-2, such as limited access to sanitation and extremely high population density, confirmed cases have remained lower than expected. To investigate this, the Bangladesh Institute of Epidemiology and Disease Control Research (IEDCR) with support from WHO, UNHCR and partners including the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS/IFRC) and the UK-PHRST worked to design and conduct a seroprevalence study to estimate the population-level of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 across all 34 camps in December 2020.  

3. Strengthening public mental health in response to the COVID-19 epidemic (SPACE)

Speakers: Dr Mohammed Abdulaziz, Head of Division for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)  Dr Alice Walker, Mental health research fellow, UK-PHRST  

Partners: Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), WHO AFRO, WHO EMRO, West African Health Organization (WAHO), and East, Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA HC).

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of addressing mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) needs as part of the outbreak response. Between September and December 2020, mental health leaders from ministries of health, WHO and NGOs from 33 African countries were surveyed and interviewed, to better understand best practice, challenges, and capacity building needs for MHPSS integration in outbreaks. This talk will present the findings and implications of this research.

4. Clinical trial of the vaccine for Ebola virus disease (Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN-Filo) in Goma, DRC

Speaker: Professor Daniel Bausch, UK-PHRST Director 

Partners: The vaccine trial is being conducted by a consortium that includes the Congolese National Institute for Biomedical Research, Ministry of Health, LSHTM, Epicentre, and World Vision. 

Description: Professor Bausch will discuss the ongoing clinical trial of the vaccine for Ebola virus disease (Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN-Filo) in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, for which he is Co-Principle Investigator.  

Watch the research webinar recording below:

Laheri Kabugho (Community Health Coordinator, Kagando Mission Hospital, Uganda) shares her experiences of working on the "Strengthening viral haemorrhagic fever preparedness in Uganda by serosurveillance of healthcare workers" study:

Dr Kavunga Membo Hugo (Département de Virologie, Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale, République Démocratique du Congo) shares his experience of setting up the clinical trial of the vaccine for Ebola virus disease (Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN-Filo) in Goma, DRC: 



COVID-19  Ebola  Mental Health  Research  


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