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New fellowship program answers crucial need for hygiene science focus and rigour
The Reckitt Global Hygiene Institute was set up as a catalyst for change and has now launched its fellowship programme which intends to create a new generation of scientific leaders dedicated to the field of hygiene.
Covid-19 has brought hygiene - and more specifically the role it can play in our health - into sharp focus and further reinforced the fact that prevention is better than cure. However, despite hygiene being the preventive component of the global fight against infectious diseases, it has languished as a minority scientific and political interest for decades.
This was further reinforced by a recent Economist Intelligence Unit report, which identified the 'need for more diverse hygiene research across the globe'.
The RGHI post-doctoral fellowship programme, funded by a $25m grant from Reckitt Benckiser, will support up to 25 post-doctoral researchers. By supporting early-career, post-doctoral researchers, the RGHI aims to drive significant evidence-based improvements in global hygiene by delivering impactful science.
Eligible researchers must have up to five years of post-doctoral experience (excluding any career breaks) and can be based at a university or research institute anywhere in the world. With a twice-yearly application process, the RGHI will award several fellowships per cycle and provide funding for each fellow's salary. On an annual basis, the fellows, under the guidance of the RGHI Expert Panel, will submit three - four research papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals that can be converted into education and health policy recommendations.
"The legacy opportunity of Covid-19 is the triggering of a social movement that sees hygiene raised up the health agenda - something that will benefit all global citizens," says Simon Sinclair, executive director, RGHI. "However, we cannot expect people to adopt practices or for governments to change or develop relevant policies if there is no solid and reliable evidence to support those actions. Through the development of the RGHI and, specifically, our Fellowship Programme, we hope to deliver impactful scientific papers and create a new generation of scientific leaders that will drive improvements in global hygiene."
The priority areas have been identified by the RGHI leadership and expert panel. The topics are intentionally broad, and applicants are asked to propose a focus in line with their own expertise and interests.
The priority areas are:
- The role of hygiene in the epidemiology and transmission of specific diseases.
- Setting specific, hygiene-related interventions and their impact.
- Determinants of hygiene behaviours and effective behaviour-change approaches in high-burden countries.
- Intersection between hygiene, disease-burden, and gender.
Fellowship proposals will be assessed in an unbiased process led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The application deadline is 30th April 2021 with successful candidates notified in August 2021.
"The RGHI advocates a life-course approach which considers the burden and the behavioural changes necessary to make improvements," explains Simon. "The RGHI is determined to effect positive change throughout the world.
"However, we are realistic and acknowledge the fact there is often a gulf between recommended practice and the social and economic environments in which they are to be implemented. Hygiene is a basic right.
"Yet, where poor hygiene exists, it widens existing inequalities and further impacts those most heavily affected. The stark reality is our lack of focus on hygiene science is costing lives.
"The RGHI intends to work with a broad range of stakeholders to realise our vision through the development of robust science that will be able to inform associated policy. The RGHI Fellows will play a crucial role in shifting the balance and improving the health and well-being of people around the world."
Any questions regarding the fellowship programme should be directed to:
For more details and to view the application process, visit:
18th February 2021