Pilot Research Projects

The Global Health Policy Programme (GHPP) at Green Templeton College (GTC) encourages and supports researchers, especially doctoral students and junior researchers to undertake pilot research projects in the area of global health policy.

To this end, in April 2014, the GHPP invited applications for small pilot/seed grants which fall within the broad remit of GHPP.

There were two projects supported in this way which presented their research findings at a GHPP seminar in June 2016 entitled India: Maternal and Child Health and NCDs, and Mental Health.

Prayas: Position of mental health on the Indian health agenda: A comparative study

In India, mental illness is estimated to affect 65-70 million people and this figure is projected to rise to 80 million people by 2015. Furthermore, it was reported that the treatment gap for mental disorders could be as high as 80%.

A new Mental Health Care Bill was passed in 2013 by India’s cabinet to replace the existing Mental Health Act of 1987, to reset the mental health agenda in India with a critical focus on human rights issues.

One of the reasons for the failure of existing national and district mental health programmes has been attributed to lack of baseline indicators for monitoring and evaluation. Systematically gathered country-level data would serve to highlight the gap and inconsistencies in the mental healthcare systems in lower middle income countries and inform future mental health policies and programmes.

The purpose of this research (Prayas, which is a Sanskrit word for endeavour) is to investigate the current state of mental health care provision in two Indian states, Tamil Nadu and Bihar.

This research involves both quantitative and qualitative parts. The quantitative part uses the WHO-AIMS instrument (a contextually validated questionnaire developed by the World Health Organisation) that has been used successfully in several countries to develop evidence-based mental health policy with transparent baseline data, while providing a benchmark to monitor progress against appropriate indicators. The qualitative part involves focus group discussions (FGDs) and interviews with key stakeholders including policy makers, participants and staff of patient self-help groups (NGOs), and health care professionals. The qualitative aspect will explore socio-economic, cultural and political factors that influence the awareness of illness, availability of services, access to care and trajectory of illness.

Towards a continuum of healthcare interventions: integrating non-communicable disease prevention into maternal and neonatal care

Globally, over 250 million slum dwellers suffer from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). As most slums are unofficial, there is often no clear healthcare policy narrative that addresses the specific challenges NCDs pose to these communities. Furthermore, the debilitating effect of NCDs is magnified by poverty, the lingering presence of infectious diseases and lack of basic medical services. Pregnant women are the only social group that consistently benefits from medical care.

This study will synthesise evidence on the integration of NCD prevention and early diagnostic practices into existing maternal and newborn health (MNH) programmes, as a strategy to counteract the predicted 53% increase of NCD deaths by 2030. Moreover, the research team will collect data in the slums of Mumbai, evaluating population awareness to NCD risk, access to general and maternal healthcare, socio-economic circumstances, behavioural and nutritional patterns.

This multi-dimensional data will be used to identify best practice schemes, performing cost-effectiveness analysis; pinpoint stakeholders in a hybrid model and verify feasibility of any proposed integrated schemes to Mumbai. The acquired contextualised analysis will be disseminated to policy makers through a research publication.