Welcome to the first DESTINE Newsletter.

Project update 

We are six months into the DESTINE Project since the kick-off meeting on 4th Oct 2021.   

Planning and procurement of consumables required at EPHI (Ethiopian Public Health Institute, WP1) to analyse blood samples for HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) infection are underway.  

We have successfully appointed 5 Ph.D. students who will be working both in Ethiopia and collaborating UK universities depending on their stages of research work. Currently, their Ph.D. registration with UK Universities and visa application are in progress, and we look forward to having them here in the UK soon.  

Here is the profile summary of two of our Ph.D. students who will be joining us soon: 

I am Tesfa Sewunet Alamneh from the University of Gondar, (College of Medicine and Health Science, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics). I have a BSc degree in Public Health and a Master of Public Health in Biostatistics. Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate in DESTINE project that aims to scale up the HCV screening and treatment strategies for Ethiopia and development of effective preventive strategies. My Ph.D. focuses on the application of infectious disease mathematical modeling and cost-effectiveness analysis tools for scale-up of the HCV testing and treatment strategies in Ethiopia to achieve the WHO (World Health Organization) 2030 global strategy for HCV elimination as a public health threat.

This is a 4-year Ph.D. program in collaboration between Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol and College of Medicine and Health Science, the University of Gondar under the supervision of Prof. Peter Vickerman and Dr. Aaron Lim and Prof. Tadesse Awoke respectively. During this tenure, I aim to achieve the following objectives: 

1.      Model the HCV epidemic in Ethiopia and Its Health impacts 

2.      Estimate the impact and cost-effectiveness of different screening and treatment strategies for controlling HCV in Ethiopia. 

3.       Estimate the costs of different interventions and statistical analyses of productivity and health utility data.

I am Saro Abdella Abrahim from the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), Ethiopia. I have a Master of Philosophy in Epidemiology and am employed as a lead researcher and supervisor at TB and HIV reference laboratories, EPHI. I have joined as a Ph.D. student in the DESTINE project that aims to improve HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) prevention, diagnosis and treatment strategies in Ethiopia.  

The study focuses on developing an effective HCV diagnostic strategy through designing and evaluating HCV screening and confirmatory test pathways. The overarching goal of my Ph.D. is to contribute to the country’s effort toward enhancing HCV case identification and disease monitoring. This will in turn play a key role to achieve the WHO’s HCV elimination goal set for 2030. The four-year Ph.D. in Medicine starts in May 2022 at the University of Dundee under the supervision of Prof. John Dillon and Dr. Dawit Wolday as co-supervisor. During the Ph.D., I will receive training related to big data acquisition, analysis and reporting. An initial literature survey will help me to collect primary data to address the following objectives:  

  1. Assess the availability and utilization of strategic documents related to HCV diagnostics in Ethiopia. 
  1. Understand HCV case identification from the perspective of different communities in Ethiopia.  
  1. Review HCV screening and confirmatory tests available in Ethiopia and innovative technologies around the globe. 
  1. Compare HCV diagnostic platforms and conduct a feasibility study.  

The first Bi-annual PMC Meeting was held on 03rd May 2022 where Prof. John Dillon gave a brief update of the project to collaborators from Bristol, Ethiopia, Israel and Dundee attending online. It was also a great platform for the Ph.D. students to introduce themselves to the collaborators about their work and skills.

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