Health interventions in Africa
Since 1978, the Bandim Health Project has registered nearly 90,000 people in Guinea-Bissau in a demographic monitoring system. More than 150 local assistants regularly visit all the homes in six suburbs of Bissau, the capital, and collect information related to such topics as health, disease, vaccinations and breastfeeding. The primary focus is on women and children. The country is one of the world’s poorest.
This comprehensive registration process is the core of the Bandim Health Project. Registration provides a unique opportunity to study the effects on the population of new health interventions such as introducing new vaccines, vitamin A supplementation and distributing mosquito nets to prevent malaria. The research from the project has led to several notable discoveries. One of the most important results was the discovery that a new measles vaccination being used in low-income countries was associated with a significant increase in deaths, especially among girls. These findings resulted in the withdrawal of the vaccine.
Peter Aaby, an anthropologist and dr.med., manages the project. Peter Aaby collaborates with a large international team of researchers to carry out high-quality research on vaccination and immunity among others while simultaneously training many of Guinea-Bissau’s physicians to become skilled researchers, several of whom have acquired PhD degrees in Denmark.
Since 2002, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has provided grants totalling DKK 14.25 million to the Bandim Health Project, with the most recent being DKK 2 million covering the period December 2011 to December 2014 for the purpose of safeguarding the unique registration data from the project for the long term. The Foundation has provided grants on numerous occasions to fund a research professorship for Peter Aaby, with the latest grant ending in 2014. The Bandim Health Project also receives support from Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (through Danida), the European Commission, Denmark’s National Basic Research Foundation and several other private foundations.