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Analysing a neglected tropical disease in rural Bihar
Our second-year PhD student Tim Pollington is currently in India for four months as part of the Newton Bhabha PhD placement programme delivered by the British Council. The Newton Bhabha scheme promotes Indo-Anglo collaboration from research scholars of both countries with institutes relevant to the student's research. Tim is working with two organisations to better understand the transmission of a neglected tropical disease that continues to plague rural Bihar. The disease—visceral leishmaniasis (VL), is transmitted between people by sandflies, with the poor living conditions in rural Bihar contributing to its sustained transmission. Most of the population lives below the government’s poverty line, in homes made of natural materials, which also provide ideal indoor breeding sites for sandflies.
Tim’s projects include measuring the effectiveness of an integrated VL control programme, assessing if follow-up of family and neighbours of treated VL cases is worthwhile in detecting new cases, and creating a real-time epidemic predictor to indicate which low-endemicity villages are most likely to experience outbreaks and need intensified surveillance.
Tim has been enjoying his time in Bihar and says “I have made working relationships here that I am sure will continue throughout my PhD and beyond. I hope that my Indian PhD friends will apply in the next funding round and come to the UK to experience the same hospitality I have received from my hosts”.