Noncommunicable disease research and prevention in Lagos slums

The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) will lead a multidisciplinary research team in a study of lifestyle factors that contribute to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), a rapidly emerging public health challenge in the Nigerian urban slum poplulation. Results of the study will give policy makers a reliable knowledge base on which to make informed health policy decisions. This study is being supported by a $56,000 (USD) research grant from IANPHI. 

NCDs, like hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular and lung diseases, cancer, mental health probles and allergies, are becoming a large public health concern to the Nigeria’s urban slum population. Lifestyle factors contribute to many of these NCDs, including tobacoo, alcohol and drug abuse, diet, indoor polution, obesity and lack of exercise. One of the aims of the research grant is to reduce the prevalance of NCDs in Lagos by promoting health lifestyles in three of the city’s slums.

Lagos, in Southwestern Nigeria, is home to 17 million tightly packed residents with lifestyle and environmental issues ranging from slums and squatter settlements to crime and delinquency. The researchers chose three specific communities within Lagos— Ajegunle, Ijora Oloye and Makoko—because of their official classification of being urban poor communities, their ethnic diversity, and their location within the Lagos metropolis. 

This two-year project will consist of a baseline study, intervention period, and evaluation at the end. Methods include a cross-sectional survey using semi-structured questionaires, in depth interviews, and focus group discussions. A series of simple diagnostic tests, such as body mass index and blood glucose, will help assess the affect of lifestyle on health. After the data is collected, the researchers hope to know the types and prevalence of NCDs, the types and their frequency and the burden of preventable lifestyle factors. The research team also will refer study subjects to appropriate health care providers. At the end of the study, the results will be published and presented to the Lagos State Ministry of Health for policy considerations.

NIMR, an IANPHI member institute, will head this multi-center collaborative study with eight researchers from NIMR, the University of Lagos, and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. The researchers specialize in various aspects of public health from medical parasitology to demography, biostatistics, and medicine. This research grant promotes sustainable research collaboration, will enhance the visibility of NIMR and will contribute to the growth of the institute as a major research institution in Nigeria. 

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