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$3 million to boost diarrhoeal disease research

RISE has received $3 million from Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to improve prevention of diarrhoeal disease among vulnerable children.

RISE researchers are assessing the links between environmental health and community health in informal settlements in Suva, Fiji and Makassar, Indonesia. The funding will boost this work, allowing researchers to assess the spread of gastrointestinal pathogens that can cause gastrointestinal disease.

Professor Karin Leder, Head of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, who leads RISE’s assessment activities, asserts that the funding is crucial to better understanding how infections that cause diarrhoea among children living in contaminated environments can be prevented.

‘RISE is looking at health and wellbeing as being inextricably linked with the environments in which people live,’ Professor Leder explains.

‘Poor water and sanitation systems in informal settlements around the world make the communities who live there incredibly vulnerable to disease. We need to better understand the ways in which these diseases spread – whether that be through food, drinking water, hands – and this funding is critical to allow us to better understand this process’.

Better understanding of the pathways through which diarrhoeal diseases spread will enable public health authorities to prioritise preventive approaches, and ultimately save lives.

Each quarter, hundreds of children under the age of five in RISE’s Fiji and Indonesia informal settlements have faecal and blood samples taken, plus their height and weight measurements taken annually, allowing RISE to monitor how exposure to diverse environments over time impacts their gastrointestinal health.