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£1.7 million awarded to tackle domestic violence in low and middle-income countries

6 July 2018

Professor Gene Feder at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care has been awarded £1.7 million by the National Institute for Health Research to fund a Global Health Group for research into health systems responses to violence against women in Palestine, Brazil, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

The grant is part of a £40 million NIHR investment into world class research through its Global Health Research (GHR) Programme which aims to deliver measurable benefits to patients and the public in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

A total of 20 NIHR GHR Groups have been awarded funding, covering a broad range of research themes, including: improving asthma outcomes in African children; health system responses to violence against women, and preterm birth prevention and management.

Professor Feder will co-direct the group with Dr Loraine Bacchus, an Associate Professor in Social Science in the Department of Global Health and Development at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

They will collaborate with academic partners at An-Najah National University (Occupied Palestinian Territories), the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), Kathmandu University (Nepal) and the University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka) to integrate and evaluate responses to violence against women in sexual and reproductive health services.

Globally, 35 per cent of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, or non-partner sexual violence, with a higher prevalence in most low and middle-income countries. Women access health services at multiple points, which provides opportunities for them to access support and referral to services for themselves and their children.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department of Reproductive Health and Research will provide additional technical and policy expertise. The study will adapt WHO’s health systems readiness tool to explore local readiness to integrate an intervention to address intimate partner violence, as well as the changes required to support implementation.

The research builds on an existing Medical Research Council Global Challenges Research Foundation Award, made to Professor Feder in 2017, which focuses on developing responses to violence against women in primary health care in Palestine and Brazil using the IRIS intervention model.

Developed by Professor Feder in the UK, IRIS was the first European randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve health care systems’ response to patients experiencing domestic violence and abuse. It is now a national programme coordinated by IRISi, a social enterprise working to improve the health care response to gender based violence. The IRIS programme is commissioned by 33 areas in England and Wales.

Professor Feder said: “We are delighted to be one of the recipients of the NIHR’s Global Health Group awards. A key objective of the Group is to build the capacity of our partners in low and middle income countries to lead robust research on the health care response to violence against women and, ultimately, improve outcomes for those women, their children and families.”

Dr Louise Wood, Director, Science, Research and Evidence Directorate, Department of Health and Social Care said “The NIHR is adding substantive value to the field of global health and helping to keep the UK at the forefront of health knowledge for global benefit. These new activities complement the breadth and range of our existing portfolio of funded research to improve health outcomes across LMICs and demonstrate the NIHR’s role in supporting the UK Aid Strategy.”The NIHR Global Health Research programme allocates the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)'s Official Development Assistance (ODA) research funding, delivering internationally-outstanding applied global health research for the direct and primary benefit of patients and the public LMICs.

£1.7 million awarded to tackle domestic violence in low and middle-income countries
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