Scottish university signs agreement to help diabetes patients in Afghanistan

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A SCOTTISH university has agreed to help improve the outcome of diabetes patients in Afghanistan.

The University of Dundee will be training local researchers to carry out future studies into the disease as well as helping to improve the life of diabetes patient.

Dundee’s Global Health Research Unit will collaborate with the Moraa Educational Complex (MEC) to investigate the rate of diabetes in patients at Kabul hospital with the aim of offering solutions to help individuals with the disease.

The new collaboration marks an expansion for Inspired a £7 million Dundee-led project that seeks to improve diabetes outcomes in India.

The researchers are working to understand who gets diabetes, how it progresses, why some people respond better than others to treatments, and why some patients develop complications in Afghanistan.

They will need to study how genes influence susceptibility to type 2 diabetes in different populations, location, history, and diverse ethnic groups present a unique opportunity to explore multiple genetic variants in patients with diabetes.

Professor Colin Palmer, Chair of Pharmacogenomics at the University and lead of the Inspired study, said: “It is very exciting to be using Scottish diabetes expertise to fight the disease in other countries.

“Lifestyle factors obviously significantly enhance a person’s risk of getting diabetes but we are taking a genetic approach in this collaboration because very little is known about the genetics of the people of Afghanistan.

The Moraa Educational Complex is a female-focused project funded by Dr Azizullah Amir through private investment and capital contributions made by him and his family.

Officially inaugurated in May 2016, the MEC aims to address the need for a safe educational environment for Afghani woman from kindergarten through to adulthood with a focus on medical training, helping to address the need for female healthcare workers in the country.

Professor Palmer and Doctor Aziz shaking hands Image supplied

Dr Amir, who will present his work in Afghanistan to the Scottish Parliament later this year, said: “Diabetes is a big problem in Afghanistan. We know it is one of highest causes of mortality but we don’t have a lot of data beyond that. In many cases the diabetes remains undiagnosed because it is not a well-known disease there.

“We are committed to working in this field to bring new insights to present to policy makers and this partnership with the University of Dundee will help with that. I believe this is the first time in our country that anyone has done this kind of systematic and highly needed research into patients with diabetes and it will also provide many opportunities for training, capacity building and data collection. It represents a great opportunity for our students to get involved in research.”

In 2017, the University of Dundee was awarded a £7 million grant from the National Institute of Health Research Global Health programme to establish INSPIRED, a major new Scotland-India clinical partnership to combat diabetes.

The NIHR Global Health Research programme supports high-quality applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding.

INSPIRED sees Dundee’s world-leading expertise in the use of medical records to deliver improved care in diabetes ‘twinned’ with the large patient data set (covering over 400,000 Indian diabetic patients) collected by Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centres, the largest clinical network of diabetes care in India.

 
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