August 21, 2009

Vanderbilt to help implement health program in Mozambique

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Alfredo Vergara, Ph.D.

Vanderbilt to help implement health program in Mozambique

The Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health will receive $4.5 million over the next five years to help implement a unique health and anti-poverty program in the southern African nation of Mozambique.

The program, called Strengthening Communities through Integrated Programming (SCIP), is supported by a five-year, $49.4 million grant awarded earlier this month by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

A consortium of partners led by the international humanitarian agency World Vision will integrate health services, water, sanitation and rural development to strengthen communities in Zambézia, in the nation's rugged central province.

“By the time this program ends in five years, these communities will be able to carry on for themselves what they've learned and developed, without requiring the same direct assistance from the U.S. government and World Vision,” Chance Briggs, director of programs for World Vision Mozambique, said in a news release.

The Institute for Global Health and its Mozambique-based subsidiary, Friends in Global Health, will use its part of the grant to provide health services and training of health care providers, as well as to lead the monitoring and evaluation of the program.

“We really need to be able to address social and economic issues to make lasting changes in people's health and well-being,” explained Alfredo Vergara, Ph.D., the institute's deputy director and principal investigator of the Vanderbilt sub-grant.

With funding from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Friends in Global Health works with the Mozambiquan Ministry of Health to extend HIV/AIDS treatment and services throughout the province, where nearly one in five people is infected with HIV.

Last year, the Institute for Global Health received a $10,000 grant from the Vanderbilt International Office, plus an additional $15,800 from the School of Medicine, College of Arts and Sciences and the Owen Graduate School of Management, to explore the possibility of tying social and economic development to its health care programs in Zambézia.

“We used the money to travel to Mozambique with a multidisciplinary team to explore what kinds of research and programs could have the most impact on health,” Vergara said. “During that trip, we cemented our collaboration and targeted the SCIP grant.”

Team members included Carol Etherington, M.S.N., R.N., assistant professor of Nursing; Ted Fischer, Ph.D., professor of Anthropology; Graham Reside, M.Div., Ph.D., executive director of the interdisciplinary Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions; and Bart Victor, Ph.D., the Cal Turner Professor of Moral Leadership in the Owen School.

Victor said SCIP will allow Vanderbilt to do “cutting-edge” research on poverty alleviation. It also “could have an extraordinarily significant impact on the way that public health interventions are understood and implemented,” he added.

A feature on Friends in Global Health appears in the current issue of Vanderbilt Medicine.