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Queen's academic awarded share of £7.2 million to support cancer patients affected by pandemic

Dr Olinda Santin from the School of Nursing and Midwifery and Dr Chris Jenkins from the Centre for Public Health have been awarded share of a £7.2 million grant from UKRI to support the world’s most disadvantaged people affected by the pandemic.

Researchers and experts from the UK and across developing countries will work in partnership to directly address the negative impacts of COVID-19 on communities which are already vulnerable due to long-term conflict, food and water shortages and crowded living conditions.

These awards are the first tranche to be announced by UKRI funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund and build on the multidisciplinary partnerships formed through the two global funds over the past four years, enabling rapid new partnerships between the international development research community, other academics, policy makers, governments, businesses and community groups across the UK and over 20 developing countries.

Dr Santin, Senior Lecturer at Queen’s has been given £219,959 to lead an international team of researchers in a project to create a digital platform for people with cancer in Vietnam to offer support and the information, psychological and social aspects that have an impact on patients and carers’ health. The award builds on work carried out by Dr Santin to build links in Vietnam which was supported by the Queen’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

The interdisciplinary network of partners in five regional cancer centres will develop digital modules to promote cancer management, mental health, quality of life and health literacy.

Dr Olinda Santin, said: “It is vital for cancer patients and their informal carers to receive uninterrupted support; the pandemic has demonstrated the need for flexible, high-quality health services that can be delivered remotely.

“We hope this research will provide patients and carers with a digital platform that will assist with the management and psychosocial impact of cancer.”

Announcing the awards, Business Secretary Alok Sharma, said: “Defeating coronavirus is a truly global endeavor, which is why we’re backing Britain’s scientists and researchers to work with their international counterparts to find tech solutions to treat and combat this virus around the world.

“The research projects we are backing today will ensure that we equip some of the most vulnerable communities with the resources they need to tackle COVID-19 and build their long-term resilience to respond to future pandemics, making us all safer.”

Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI’s International Champion, said: “COVID-19 is demonstrating just how interconnected our world is and how our biggest challenges transcend rich and poor countries. To find lasting, sustainable solutions to the current pandemic and its aftermath, as well as to make us more resilient for the future, we require global thinking, the mobilisation of global expertise and a global response. That is exactly what these new projects provide.

“Working together, researchers across the UK and the Global South are combining their knowledge and experience to develop innovative solutions to empower local communities to overcome the wide-ranging challenges created by COVID.”

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