CHETRE secures international and local grants for COVID-19 rapid research response

The health equity research projects will look at the longer-term social dimensions of the pandemic.

Two COVID-19 Rapid Research Grants through the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)

The Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation (CHETRE) has been successful, with Canadian colleagues, in securing two COVID-19 Rapid Research grants through the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR).

“Although the disease itself is ravaging the health of individuals and populations, the emerging patterns for effects on populations over time are even more disturbing,” says Professor Evelyne de Leeuw from CHETRE and UNSW Medicine. “Some groups seem more affected by the disease and therefore by health flow-on effects than others. But the longer-term socio-economic effects of the pandemic – such as economic downturn, reduction in livelihoods, travel, contact, etc. – make things even worse.”

  • Role of Chief Medical Officers in COVID-19 response

One CIHR project will look at the role of Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), or their equivalents, across states, provinces and territories in Britain, New Zealand, Canada and Australia in taking up scientific advice, framing policies and interventions, and communicating them. The researchers will also roll out population surveys to take stock of popular perceptions of the CMO roles. This project will be undertaken with Professor Patrick Fafard of the Global Strategy Lab at York University and the University of Ottawa.

  • COVID-19 economic strain and effects on health and liveability

The second project will look at the effects of financial hardship on health and liveability and how we can better know who is affected. It will also frame whole-of-government responses to the resulting inequities of COVID-19-related economic strain. It will be jointly run in Canada and Australia by Professor Candace Nykiforuk (University of Alberta) and Professor de Leeuw.

Two local grants
  • Urban planning and respiratory pandemics

Dr Patrick Harris, senior research fellow and acting deputy director at CHETRE, will lead two new projects that have secured funding in Australia. The Healthy Urban Environments (HUE) Collaboratory, at Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE), will fund a project that aims to inform the prevention of respiratory pandemics through urban planning and design practices, guidelines, policies, governance and institutional frameworks.

“COVID-19 requires a multi-level urban planning and design response encompassing policy measures, governance, infrastructure provision, and design features,” says Dr Harris. “Those most vulnerable to infection must be considered primarily, as must unanticipated consequences for the whole population including risk of disadvantage. Fortunately, pandemics over history can inform the response.”

  • Health and related risks associated with informal and unregulated accommodation

Dr Harris is also chief investigator on a project funded by Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) which will investigate health and related risks associated with informal and unregulated accommodation, using unique data sets on informal and short-term rental housing markets in major Australian cities. It will also canvass policy options for expanding housing system capacity during health and other emergencies, serving vulnerable populations or essential workers.

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