New PhD research in the slums of Kenya

New PhD research on how to battle the disease burden in the slums of Kenya


Data suggest that it is only a matter of time before cardiovascular diseases will be the number one cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, very little research has been done into chronic lifestyle diseases in this part of the world, and awareness, treatment and control remain low. On Wednesday October 14th Samuel Oti and Steven van de Vijver, both connected to our partner organization the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), defended their PhD theses on the disease burden in the slums of Nairobi.


Although cardiovascular disease is often seen as a disease for the affluent, over 80% of deaths actually take place in low and middle income countries. Steven van de Vijver’s research focuses on developing an affordable and sustainable cardiovascular disease prevention program for the slums of Nairobi. His PhD thesis “Cardiovascular disease prevention in the slums of Kenya” demonstrates that a community-based program to increase awareness, treatment and control of cardiovascular risk factors could be used in the slums of Kenya, despite the challenges of such a disadvantaged and low-resource setting.


By illustrating the need and opportunity to implement these cost-effective models in slums, Van de Vijver hopes to stimulate governments and international organizations to work together to implement such programs. Besides the clear implications for sub-Saharan Africa, there are also options of implementing an adapted version in African migrant populations in Amsterdam. Van de Vijver worked as a Senior Research Officer at the African Population Health Research Center (APHRC) in Nairobi and is currently besides his clinical work affiliated with the Amsterdam Health and Technology Institute (ahti).


Samuel Oti’s thesis “Double burden of disease in the slums of Kenya” provides evidence of the coincidence of a high burden of both infectious and non-communicable diseases within the same population. The aim is to make a case for an integrated health systems approach as a way of tackling this problem. Oti is the Theme Leader of Non-Communicable Diseases at the African Population Health Research Center (APHRC). He is both a public health specialist and epidemiologist and conducts research and technical assistance in the areas of HIV/AIDS, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), aging and mortality measurement in developing countries.


Both Oti and Van de Vijver will continue working on the follow up of the SCALE UP project in order to stimulate implementation of a cost-effective, sustainable and scalable model for the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases in resource poor settings.


More information:

* Van de Vijver and Oti recently published an article in The Lancet: “Challenges of health programmes in slums”


* Click here to read the journal article from Oti and Van de Vijver et al. (2013) about the SCALE UP project (Trials Journal).