Researchers awarded £2.9 million to improve access to injury care in the Global South

Researchers awarded £2.9 million to improve access to injury care in the Global South

An international team of researchers have been awarded almost £3 million to improve access to injury care in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The £2.9 million of NIHR funding, will be shared between several Universities including the Universities of Aberdeen, Birmingham and the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.  

The multi-disciplinary team will build on partnerships with experts in Ghana, South Africa, Rwanda, and Pakistan to explore how to overcome barriers to accessing quality care after injury and reduce the likelihood of death or disability. 

Every year, five million people die due to injuries like road traffic accidents, burns, falls, or violence - with 90 percent of these deaths in LMICs.  Experts will use a ‘four delays framework’, which looks at where delays occur in people seeking, reaching, receiving, and remaining in good quality care after injuries, to collect information on delays and their effects on patient outcomes. The team will develop strategies for policy makers to identify where intervention is needed to reduce post-injury delays and produce maximum health benefits. 

The project builds on a recent study funded by the NIHR and led by The University of Birmingham alongside experts in Rwanda in which 121 barriers to access to quality injury care were identified in three countries across sub-Saharan Africa: Ghana, South Africa, and Rwanda. 

Researchers discovered that whilst there were a large number of barriers in total, only 31 (25.6%) of these were common to all three countries, suggesting that solutions to improve access to quality care after injuries may be contextually-dependent. 

Also, over half of these common factors, 58 percent, were related to delays in receiving quality care at a healthcare facility, suggesting that investment needs to be made in overcoming delays in seeking or reaching care. 

Justine Davies, Professor of Global Health Research at the University of Birmingham explained: “Injuries in LMICs are common and their number is expected to increase, but death and disability after injury can be substantially reduced if people reach healthcare facilities in a timely manner.  

“Understanding access to quality injury care is critical to improving patient outcomes. By partnering with organisations in Ghana, South Africa, Rwanda, and Pakistan, we will develop solutions for future study in these, and similar countries.  

“Our research has already identified many barriers to accessing good quality care in Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa. However, as few of these are shared across countries, solutions to reduce the risk of post-injury death and disability need to reflect circumstances in each country.” 

Dr Lucia D’Ambruoso, Senior Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen and Co-Investigator in the project added: “Injuries are a major public health concern in the global South requiring timely access to good quality care.  

“We will work with partners in Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa and Pakistan developing context-specific approaches to improve injury outcomes, addressing the high burden of avoidable death and disability. 

“An inclusive partnership underpins the research plans. Community and patient groups, policy-makers, health workers, researchers and other experts will help us to find solutions that are locally relevant, acceptable and feasible.” 

The researchers will also train four PhD students and 14 junior researchers in countries with low resources. Training will be done through the development of research hubs in partner countries – these hubs will continue and train future LMIC researchers beyond the project’s end.