£44million project to improve Bangladeshi children’s health launched in Tower Hamlets

A new collaboration of NHS researchers, leading universities and authorities has launched a £44million research fund that will help improve the health of Bangladeshi children.

The project is designed to help improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities for millions of people living in several areas including Tower Hamlets.

Bangladeshi children living in east London have a much higher risk of malnutrition and obesity than the average child in the UK. For decades, various initiatives have been rolled out in a bid to reverse the problem, but never before has a model to improve nutritional outcomes been adopted

from a developing country and applied to a relevant ethnic community in the UK.

The project will use a proven model from south Asia where the introduction of female health workers into local women’s groups has significantly improved maternal and neonatal survival rates.

Work for the project is already under way with the initial phase in east London planned to start in January 2015. It will explore parents’ and carers’ perceptions of the barriers to maintaining a healthy weight in children, as well as exploring their knowledge of healthy weight and factors that impact on this, such as feeding practices.

Somen Banerjee, Interim Director of Public Health Tower Hamlets, said: “Bangladeshi children are in one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the country. My colleagues in the NHS, universities and social care are eager to work together through the collaboration to promote healthy nutrition, and ultimately improve the lives of these children.”

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The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) North Thames aims to ensure that the health and public health services in the region and its population of six million people benefit from the latest developments in health research. The £44million funding will be invested in researching innovative interventions and models of care and speeding the uptake of these to benefit patients and the public.

Research teams will collaborate across five themes: child and adolescent health, mental health, behaviour change, organisational research, and a theme focusing on novel ways of carrying out research to increase its direct usefulness for the NHS, patients and the public. Examples include the

design and testing of a school based asthma intervention, improving dementia care and early recognition of dementia for ethnic minority groups, testing an on-line intervention to reduce harmful alcohol intake, and improving the identification and management of domestic violence by

the NHS.

The NIHR CLAHRC North Thames formally came into practice in January 2014 and is funded for five years.