Capacity building in Nepal – infectious diseases
Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), an integrated part of Tribuhvan University, is the first hospital and the landmark of medical education in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. The teaching hospital has a great need for modern diagnostic methods. The goal of the collaboration is to build a modern laboratory with capacity for molecular biological analysis, sharing knowledge about genetic technology methods and eventually to establish joint research projects on viral infections. Rotavirus and the hepatitis C and E viruses are a major problem in the area, with the latter causing many deaths among pregnant women in Nepal.
The Department of Virology at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has hosted trainees from TUTH and WARUN on several occasions.
From November 2011 to 2015 Åshild K. Andreassen, a senior researcher from the Department of Virology gave an annual five-day theoretical and practical seminar in molecular biology. In November 2011, five different institutions and 27 participants attended the seminar, which was organised by TUTH. During the seminar, excursions were made to WARUN (Walter Reed/AFRIMS Research Unit Nepal), Kathmandu Medical College (KMC), Siddhi Memorial Hospital and the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL). The course participants were given a tour and lectures about the molecular biology facilities and research that is already being carried out in Kathmandu. During the visit, further collaboration was discussed. From 2012-2015, the NIPH carried out a theoretical and practical course in molecular biology at TUTH. The participants were awarded certificates by the Dean of TUTH and Professor Bharat M. Pokhrel.
From 2016 the NIPH has lacked funding to continue the capacity building. Additional funding is necessary to establish a molecular biological unit and to build a team of competent researchers so that TUTH, WARUN and other related institutional staff can carry out their own molecular biological analyses.
The NIPH’s collaboration with Nepal builds on research projects which began in 1998 led by Professor Tor Strand at the Centre for International Health at the University of Bergen. Several employees at the Department of Virology (NIPH) are participating in the collaborative project. Among these are three ongoing PhD projects in collaboration with University of Bergen, Sykehuset Innlandet HF and TU, despite lack of funding. One of these projects is dedicated to study the genotypic distribution of enteric viruses by analysing for respiratory and gastroenteritis infections, astrovirus and non-polio enterovirus. A second project is studying Rotavirus and co-infection with other gastroenteritis viruses. These projects are part of The Etiology, Risk Factors and Interactions of Enteric Infections and Malnutrition and the Consequences for Child Health and Development (MAL-ED) birth cohort study. The third PhD project is in collaboration with Tribhuvan University, on the genotypes of HCV, resistance mutation in drugs target genes and how to identify the transmission route corresponding to genotypes in different group of population.