Capacity building in Nepal – infectious diseases
Since 2009, researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s Department of Virology have collaborated with microbiologists at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) financed the collaboration over the past year. The researchers would now like to take this collaboration a step further in 2012.
Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) is a large hospital in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu. The teaching hospital has a great need for modern diagnostic methods. The goal of the collaboration is to build up a modern laboratory with molecular biological analysis capacity, share knowledge about genetic technology methods and eventually to establish joint research projects on rotavirus, hepatitis E and hepatitis C virus, in addition to other viral diseases. Both hepatitis C and hepatitis E virus are a major problem in the area, and the latter causes many deaths among pregnant women in Nepal.
In October 2011 the Department of Virology at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) hosted trainee Hari Prasad Kattel, a Nepalese microbiologist from TUTH. During his four week stay he received training in several molecular biological techniques and cultivation of cell cultures for use in virus detection and hands-on knowledge of the techniques.
At the end of November 2011 senior researcher Åshild K. Andreassen from the Department of Virology and PhD student Biswa N. Sharma from the University of Tromsø travelled to Nepal to teach at a five day theoretical seminar in molecular biology. 27 participants from five different institutions attended the seminar, which was organized by Hari Prasad Kattel at 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 regarding the molecular biological facilities and research that is already being carried out in Kathmandu. During the visit, further collaboration was discussed. The seminar ended with the delivery of participation certificates by the Dean of TUTH and Professor Bharat M. Pokhrel.
The NIPH would like to carry out a practical course in PCR analyses (Polymerase Chain Reaction) at TUTH. Currently, the NIPH lacks funding to implement this. Additional funding is necessary to establish a molecular biological unit and to build a team of competent researchers so that TUTH staff can carry out their own molecular biological analyses.
The NIPH’s collaboration with Nepal builds on research projects which began in 1998 which were led by Professor Tor Strand at the Centre for International Health at the University of Bergen. Tor Strand is currently affiliated with the Department of Virology part time. Several other employees in the same department currently participate in the collaborative project, including Susanne G. Dudman, Gabriel Ånestad, Rikard Rykkvin, Kirsti Vainio and Hilde Elshaug.