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Breathe Again - Operational Support in Uganda

The Client

The research conducted by The University of Plymouth Primary Care Research Group involves practitioners, and members of the public, who are instrumental in helping to develop focused research questions and in designing projects. A range of research qualitative and quantitative methods are used to solve pressing and often complex research problems. The research is often directed towards those individuals who are the most excluded or disempowered, have mental health problems and have difficulty accessing services. The University of Plymouth is leading on several projects within the IPCRG FRESH AIR programme including the pulmonary rehabilitation projects in remote settings, starting in mountain villages in Crete and progressing to remote high altitude nomadic communities in Kyrgyz Republic and rural communities in Vietnam. There is also a project evaluating an education programme for midwives in rural Uganda to deliver improving pregnancy outcomes and child health in the first six months of life. The project teaches people about the dangers of biomass smoke from cooking fires, from kerosene lamps and other sources, including tobacco smoking.

625 Contract Delivery

The 625 provided operational and technical support for The Breathe Again Africa project which aims to build a new pulmonary rehabilitation centre in Kampala, Uganda. The centre will help to train medical professionals and treat people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) from across the continent. The treatment delivered at the centre is an evidence-based and does not involve drugs. Groups of patients undergo rehabilitation in a six-week twice weekly programme of exercise and education.

COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide. Asthma and COPD are common the world over and, in the west, most often treated through the use of inhalers. But in Uganda, these treatments are expensive and seldom available, even if they can be afforded.

University research, led funded by Medical Research Council, Welcome Trust and UK Government Department for International Development, has shown that rehab worked extremely effectively in Uganda to improve symptoms, social isolation and return to productivity.

Dr Jones, part of the University's Institute for Translational and Stratified Medicine (ITSMED), explained the importance of the work; he said:

"Rehab is very effective in reducing breathlessness, improving social engagement, and reducing dependence. In many patients, rehab is life transforming. The centre will act as a permanent National Centre for performing pulmonary rehabilitation and for training staff from across Africa to conduct rehab to the highest standards. Our research has shown how effective the treatment is."