Research

GastroPak: Understanding and preventing the spread of non-viral gastroenteritis in Pakistan.

Bringing together an international and multidisciplinary team to study the scientific, structural, and cultural factors that drive the spread of non-viral gastroenteritis.

Project Summary.

Led by: Chris Quince Group

Project Funders:

UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

 

Gastroenteritis is an infection of the stomach and small intestine, caused either by harmful bacteria, parasites, or viruses. It causes diarrhoea and dehydration, which can be deadly for people living in parts of the world where clean water is in short supply. 

The GastroPak project, supported through the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), will develop capacity in Pakistan for pathogen surveillance. The deployment of equipment and protocols will enable different species of non-viral gastroenteritic pathogens to be detected. These samples will then be used to conduct a ‘One Health’ survey of pathogens across the environment, domestic animals, and in the local community.

 Crucially, the project brings together social scientists, microbiologists, engineers, epidemiologists, chemists, and statisticians to take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the various social, biological, chemical, and technical factors affecting the spread of gastroenteritis. 

The multidisciplinary team will investigate how the different factors contribute to the spread of infection through agriculture, sanitation, drinking water, food, and person-to-person contact. 

Below: Scientists from Gastropak visiting the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), membrane bioreactor in Islamabad. (Credit: Dr Richard Doyle).

 

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GastroPak team visiting a water treatment facility in Islamabad.

 

Impact statement.

Gastroenteritis is a major health problem in Pakistan, where it is estimated to kill around 60,000 people each year. 

 More than a third of the country’s children under the age of five have been treated for diarrhoea at some point in their lives. They are particularly vulnerable, as non-viral gastroenteritis can lead to long-term problems in growth and mental development. 

The information gained about non-viral gastroenteritis transmission in Pakistan, and the molecular tools developed to generate it, will be transferable to other low income countries where there is a higher risk of gastroenteritis and its associated health and socioeconomic effects.