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Researchers receive $1.6 million to evaluate community-based health program in Thailand

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada and Khon Kaen University in Thailand are leading a new $1.6 million study to enhance and evaluate the Thai-developed Community-Based Health Education and Communication (CHEC) model. This grant was awarded from a Team Grant Competition (primary and secondary prevention of cancer) from the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD).

Liver cancer is highly prevalent in Thailand, particularly a form called cholangiocarcinoma (CCA). Liver cancer has been the leading cause of death among Thai people for more than 20 years, with more than 15,000 people dying each year from this disease. Infection by a type of parasite called flukes is one of the main factors contributing to CCA. In 2015, the CHEC was developed to help reduce these infections.

“A habit of eating raw or undercooked fish is one of the major factors contributing to how people become infected by liver flukes,” says Dr. Pattapong Kessomboon, co-principal investigator and Associate Professor at the Khon Kaen University Department of Community Medicine.

“Community-based approaches that improve knowledge and behaviours are an important way to better the health of communities,” says Dr. Gina Agarwal, professor at the McMaster Department of Family Medicine and nominated principal investigator of the study.

With $1.1 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and over $500,000 from the Health Systems Research Institute (HSRI) in Thailand, researchers hope to learn more about the barriers and facilitators for preventing CCA, including how culture, governance and health systems may impact the rates of infection.

Once the researchers know more about the context of where the CHEC is being implemented and how it may be effective, the team will be able to find new ways to integrate it deeper within local and regional health policy says Agarwal.

This project builds on Agarwal’s expertise in global health research. As the director of the Vulnerable Individuals in Primary Care (VIP) Research Lab, Agarwal has led and collaborated on projects that focus on improving health care access in both rural and urban areas in low- and middle-income countries.

Dr. Ricardo Angeles, research associate and part-time faculty member in the McMaster department of family medicine is a co-principal investigator. Co-investigators include Lehana Thabane (McMaster University), Zain Chagla (McMaster University), Nusaraporn Kessomboon (Khon Kaen University), Banchob Sripa (Khon Kaen University) and Paitoon Promthet (Sirindhorn Hospital)

Gina Agarwal (McMaster University), Ricardo Angeles (McMaster University), and Pattapong Kessomboon (Khon Kaen University) are co-principal investigators on the study
McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine