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3rd July 2024

Improving public health in SA

Public health grants

Protecting the health of South Australians is the aim of four new research scholarships awarded through a unique partnership between The Hospital Research Foundation Group, SA Health and the School of Public Health, University of Adelaide.

The inaugural scholarships will target priority health issues affecting the state, including areas like infectious diseases, climate change, water safety and health promotion.

Funded by The Hospital Research Foundation Group and backed by Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier, the scholarship recipients will receive quality research training from global leaders within SA Health and the university, to make an impact on population health.

“This is an exciting opportunity to undertake research to enhance the health of the South Australian community and beyond,” Prof Spurrier said.

“There are a range of project areas available, from communicable disease surveillance to climate change and infectious diseases. These are really critical issues.”

Congratulations to the recipients, all to be enrolled with the School of Public Health, University of Adelaide. They include:

  • Christina Varghese – Climate change and infectious diseases in Australia

The risk from infectious diseases is increasing, with research indicating this has been exacerbated by climate change. This project aims to understand how climate change can enhance the  transmission of infectious diseases, putting populations at risk and challenging our healthcare systems.

The project will investigate how climate change could impact Ross River virus and salmonella infections, map areas where infectious disease burden is likely to be more prevalent, project future infectious disease burden in relation to climate change scenarios and examine capacity to deal with emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

  • Marzieh Mangoli Health promotion in culturally, linguistically diverse populations

The pandemic showed that people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds often receive health information from a variety of sources, including from family and friends still overseas.

This project aims to co-design resources customised for communities,  working alongside the Multicultural Communities Council of SA and SA Health to develop a culturally sensitive and strength-based framework.

  • Maria Lin Managing UTIs in aged care

Aged care patients are frequently given antibiotics for urinary tract infections, however data suggests there is a growing resistance to the medications in aged care facilities.

This project aims to work with aged care facilities to ensure these medications are  being appropriately prescribed through developing better strategies to manage presumed UTI cases.

  • Erin Barrera – Cyanobacteria toxins in recycled water

South Australia relies on recycled water for various uses, however the storage lagoons that house this nutrient-rich recycled water provide an ideal environment for cyanobacterial blooms, some of which can be toxic and cause health impacts ranging from skin irritation to liver-damage and neurotoxicity.

Risk assessments determine when uses of recycled water can continue, or are required to cease, for a period of time. The aim of this project is to investigate exposures to toxic cyanobacteria within recycled water in order to expand the available database and aid health-based targets and public health policy for cyanobacterial toxins in recycled water.