UNC UNAN Partnership
In October 1999, the deadliest hurricane to strike the Western Hemisphere in two centuries − Hurricane Mitch − devastated much of Central America, including Nicaragua. Following the hurricane, UNC established several service and teaching initiatives in the country.
UNC partnered with the University of Nicaragua, Léon (UNAN) in these efforts. UNAN is the country’s historical university and health sciences campus, which includes a teaching hospital (HEODRA) and the Center for Epidemiology and Health (CIDS).
UNC-UNAN research collaborations started in 2002 with a focus on gastrointestinal disease, renal disease, and women’s health. The goals of the partnership are clinical translational research, genetic epidemiology, and bilateral training and teaching initiatives.
The UNC program in Nicaragua is one of the institute’s priority Latin America initiatives.
Established UNC-UNAN Programs
- Gastrointestinal Disease Epidemiology Program
Gastric Cancer Epidemiology
Burden of Diarrheal Disease in the Remote Communities of Northern Nicaragua (Sahsa)
Renal Initiative in Nicaragua
Rotavirus Immunization Efficacy Initiative
Collaborative Sahsa Health Initiative (CSHI)
Target Areas for UNC – UNAN Collaboration
- Maternal−Child Health
Cancer and chronic disease epidemiology programs
Women’s health and GI cancers
Evolving chronic disease epidemiology
Environmental and water programs
Demography and geography
Innovation for CIDS surveillance network
Contact: Doug Morgan
The Collaborative Sahsa Health Initiative (CSHI) is a partnership between UNAN and UNC in the remote Mosquitia region of northern Nicaragua, an area that is geographically isolated and underserved. Hurricane Felix in 2007 added to this burden, affecting over 180,000 people. UNAN was one of the first responders following the hurricane and has established a permanent presence in the Sahsa region, an area of 50 villages, with a clinic and rural hospital.
The CHSI mission is to advance the health in the region through combined service, teaching, and research projects.
CHSI incorporates students, residents and faculty from UNC and UNAN with local health promoters. In the summer of 2008 CSHI initiated a geographic surveillance system (GIS) to assess the household health care needs in the Sahsa area of Nicaragua. The focus was on maternal−child health and diarrheal disease. UNC medical students, residents, and faculty worked with UNAN faculty, students, and local community health workers to collect household data with validated questionnaires in a sample of the villages in the Sahsa region. The team documented that the maternal−child health indicators were significantly worse in Sahsa than in western Nicaragua.
CSHI is a unique collaboration that hopes to facilitate short- and long-term change in the health sector of this isolated region.
Contact: Doug Morgan