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Projects in the Hub

TOPOWA Project

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The TOPOWA project is a 5-year long research study, funded by the NIH to address the social drivers of mental illness in low-income settings. Our study will determine the link between place and mental health among young women who live in the slums of Kampala, Uganda.  The study will also determine if vocational training and women empowerment initiatives such as strengthening entrepreneurship skills will improve mental health trajectories for women in poverty.


The collaborative and transdisciplinary study has many different project pieces and brings together researchers from Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University and Makerere University. The Community Based Organization that will lead the study implementation and intervention is our long-term partner the Uganda Youth Development Link. 

Preventing Alcohol Harm

Alcohol use and harm are significant public health concerns in Uganda. There are few prevention strategies and alcohol marketing and sales are largely unregulated creating a very challenging environment. Dr. Swahn has worked extensively with academic, community and government partners to address this issue and generate new research and data to guide policy development and prevention initiatives. Her main focus has been on youth populations, particularly children and young adults who live in the slums of Kampala. Her work has informed policy development and she was part of a small team working with the Ministry of Health to draft the alcohol control bill. This work is ongoing. 


Improving Health Outcomes among Children & Youth Living in the Slums of Kampala

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With urbanization and migration to cities, the slums are rapidly growing. Unfortunately, there is very limited research on the key health needs among vulnerable youth. We have engaged with youth to understand a range of health-risk behaviors, family and contextual factors to aid the design and implementation of prevention strategies. Our research has focused on mental health, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, violence, alcohol and drug use and pregnancies. We use mixed methods in our research and use a very collaborative approach with academic and community partners in Uganda and the broader region.  This work is ongoing. 

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