Abigail Link, MPH, PhD
Nominated From: University of Washington/University of Minnesota
Research Site: IDI & Makerere University
Research Area: Meningitis
Primary Mentor: David Meya
Meningitis: Burden, Causes and Patient Experiences in Rural Northern Uganda
Each year over one million people, worldwide are affected by meningitis; however, this could be underestimated as some countries have poorer surveillance and monitoring for this disease. In sub-Saharan Africa, most deaths due to meningitis are caused by bacteria or fungi. In Uganda, meningitis was the 9th most common cause for premature death between 2007-2017.
During my Fulbright-Fogarty fellowship year, I will elucidate the burden and causes of meningitis utilizing secondary data from a regional referral hospital in northern Uganda. Additionally, I will seek to understand the experiences of patients with meningitis and the providers who treat and refer meningitis patients through surveys and interviews. This study will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the current prevalence of meningitis and the barriers and facilitators to care in order to improve patient outcomes and meningitis care.
Currently, little is known about the specific causes of meningitis, the overall burden of disease, and the potential impact of prevention measures for meningitis in northern Uganda. Potential ways to prevent meningitis include utilization of vaccines against certain forms of BM, such as meningococcal meningitis, and implementation of CrAg screening programs to prevent CM. The meningococcal vaccine is not currently available in Lira.
Advice for Potential Candidates
Finding supportive and experienced mentors are a key component in creating your research project. Finding these essential collaborations in the research area that piques your interest will allow you to hone your topic and utilize the full expertise of your mentors.