Global Health Research Center of Central Asia
Columbia's Global Health Research Center of Central Asia, or GHRCCA, was established in 2007, and is made up of a dedicated team of faculty, students, researchers, and scientists. Its primary aim is to introduce and advance solutions to many health problems, particularly HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, hepatitis C, substance abuse, and malnutrition. The center envisions to develop practical and scientific based solutions. GHRCCA also has a branch office in Almaty, Kazakhstan and regional representatives in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. Staff from New York and staff from Central Asia work closely together to achieve the mission.
More than 80 million people live in Central Asia in the five post-Soviet countries: Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. However, as Central Asia is slowly emerging into a market based economy, it struggles with many rapidly growing health problems. For instance, Central Asia has the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world. The influx of cheap heroin along the border areas has worsened substance abuse among vulnerable populations. Many people travel across the region to find jobs, primarily to Kazakhstan. In result, there has been an increase in sex workers and, consequently, an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. Without adequate health and education services and resources, Central Asia cannot, by itself, mitigate these problems. By bringing together top experts, local and international experts, government, and universities, GHRCCA is trying to seek sustainable solutions to these problems.
Columbia University's Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA) develops and advances evidence-based, sustainable solutions to emerging public health and social issues in the Central Asia region through rigorous research, education, training and policy. This multi-disciplinary center creates crosscutting partnerships with governments, universities, and non-governmental organizations in the region and worldwide to achieve its mission.
As a center of excellence, the Global Health Research Center of Central Asia envisions:
1. Providing vulnerable populations with access to effective systems of health care and social welfare,
2. Developing the next generation of research scientists capable to mobilize and provide multi-disciplinary expertise on public health and social issues, and
3. Advancing innovative curriculum on global health and social welfare through faculty and student exchanges between Central Asia and Columbia University.
This is done by bringing together top scientists, faculty and researchers of different fields from Columbia University and Central Asian universities.
Past and current projects:
- Project Renaissance (2008-2013) -- a five year couple based HIV prevention intervention study, funded by the National Institutes of Drug Abuse, that is conducted on 400 injecting drug users and their partners in Kazakhstan.
- Project SHIELD CENTRAL ASIA (2008-2009) -- a one year project sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse that will adapt the current HIV prevention program to drug users in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
- Project THE SILK ROAD STUDY (2010-2015) -- a study that focuses on HIV/sexually transmitted infections among 2,000 male migrant market vendors in Barakholka Market in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This study will have important implications in understanding the determinants of sexually transmitted diseases among migrant workers and improving their access to health care if they become infected.
- Tajikistan HIV/AIDS Prevention (2006-2008) -- a two year study that was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. GHRCCA collaborated with the Tajikistan Ministry of Health and the Tajikistan HIV/AIDS Center for Prevention and Care, and implemented an HIV prevention research with Tajik sex workers.
- Women's Well Study in Mongolia (2007-2012) -- a study funded the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcololism in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, this study will examine the effectiveness of a gender HIV intervention for women who women who are sex workers and alcohol abusers.
- Family Centered HIV/AIDS Treatment and Care (2008-2009) -- a study funded by a Seed Grant from the Center and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP), it examined the needs of women and children with HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan. This study is a foundation for future research projects that deal with family centered HIV/AIDS treatment and care.
- Factors That Affect HIV Treatment Adherence Among IDUs (2008-2009) -- a pilot study funded by ISERP, it examined factors that are associated with HIV treatment adherence and non-adherence HIV positive population of drug users in Karaganda and Temirtau, Kazakhstan.
- Prevention of Smoking substance abuse in Kazakhstan (2009) -- Social Work faculty met with representatives from the Kazakhstan Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, National Healthy Lifestyles Center, and the Kazakhstan School of Public Health to discuss and develop partnerships for future collaborative research.
- Mental Health in Kazakhstan (2007) -- CU Medical Center and Social Work faculty traveled to Kazakhstan to meet with an in-patient mental health facility in Astana and community mental health organizations in Almaty. There, they explored future collaborations and research.
The education component is an integral component of GHRCCA's work; it includes student exchanges, mentorships, and faculty visits from Columbia University and Central Asia. GHRCCA hosts exchange programs for pre and post doctoral students, faculty and scholars; provides internships for master level students who are interested in the region; serves as a field placement for CU and Central Asian students; and allows opportunites for faculty to initiate and conduct their research in the Central Asia region.
GHRRCA conducts research training for its Central parners on public health and social issues. For instance, in 2007, GHRCCA hosted twenty health professional for a month long training on social welfare.
Policy and Dissemination
This category focuses on advancing evidence based research and training in the region.
- Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
- Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning
- Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health
- Social Intervention Group, School of Social Work