MITU’s research activities focus on the development and evaluation of health interventions, often through the conduct of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). This strategic focus distinguishes the Unit from other research institutions in the region and contributes to its status as a centre of excellence in the design and use of intervention trials. The Unit also conducts observational studies, to provide an epidemiological evidence base for intervention trials. Special efforts are made to promote the integration of research findings and evidence into healthcare policy and practice.
The geographical location of MITU allows research to be conducted in six regions around Lake Victoria in northwestern Tanzania. This offers a unique opportunity for research to take place in a range of urban, peri-urban and rural study locations, all within easy travelling distance of the Unit, so that urban/rural gradients in disease prevalence and risk factors can be readily observed and analysed.
Research is organised around the following main themes:
Since its inception, the collaboration between LSHTM, MITU and NIMR has focused mainly on the development and evaluation of interventions against HIV and other sexual health problems. HIV infection remains a major public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa where the majority of people living with HIV globally reside. MITU continues to contribute to the development and testing of new and novel methods aimed at preventing new infections, whilst also strengthening health systems’ response to the epidemic in reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS and related diseases, improving care and treatment, and mitigating the impact of the epidemic. Recently completed and ongoing research activities in this area include the following projects:
Cervical cancer is the commonest cancer in women from low and middle-income countries. It is also the leading cause of years of life lost from cancer in many parts of the developing world. Renewed hope for cervical cancer control has recently come from vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the primary cause of cervical cancer and associated cervical lesions. MITU’s recently completed and ongoing research activities in this area include the following projects:
Populations in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are experiencing a demographic and epidemiological transition marked by a rapidly emerging epidemic of chronic conditions that include non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardio-vascular, metabolic, renal and pulmonary diseases. Research projects implemented by MITU aim to determine the burden and risk factors for NCDs in northwestern Tanzania, assess the ability of health systems to deliver effective care and treatment, and evaluate affordable prevention and treatment strategies. Recently completed and ongoing research activities in this area include the following projects:
Alcohol use is one of the major risk factors for the global burden of disease, and is associated with a range of medical conditions and injuries. These include increased risk of acquiring HIV and poor adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) which may lead to more rapid disease progression among people living with HIV. MITU has been involved in observational and intervention studies in a range of populations, and has made significant contributions in increasing the understanding of the role of alcohol as an individual and structural risk factor for HIV infection. Recently completed and ongoing research projects include:
Strengthening reproductive health services, including improving the quality of antenatal and delivery care, may help in reducing maternal (and infant) mortality which remain unacceptably high in sub-Saharan Africa. Within this area, MITU recently conducted the following projects:
Many of the major infectious diseases and emerging chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in sub- Saharan Africa have their roots in exposures that develop during adolescence or early adulthood, the group which accounts for more than a third of the population of most low-income countries. As part of MITU’s research programme, ground-breaking studies have looked at the epidemiology and control of major health problems of adolescents and young adults, including research around HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV) and related infections, as well as the evolution of selected NCDs and related risk factors. Recently completed and ongoing research activities in this area include the following projects:
MITU is also conducting research activities in other new areas, including: