Medical Research

Policy Planning

The mission of the ICROSS research programme unit is to understand what makes a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable and poor people in Africa. Many of our studies have taken decades to complete but we have contributed significantly to international medical research. The purpose of ICROSS research programmes is to improve the quality of life in Africa. The insights we have attained have been widely disseminated internationally, both through medical and scientific journals, international conferences lobby groups like SODIS and the incorporation of ideas into policies.

Our Research Philosophy


We believe the most effective way in designing research is with partner institutions around the world specialised in our areas of interest. Collaboration is the most effective way of drawing together the skills of many partners. In 2005, we have created three new working relationships with Toronto, Halifax and Duke Universities. We promote our field partners who are small community based organisations across Africa. Our collaborations extend to India, Cambodia, the Philippines and South Africa. Our networks are actively engaged in disseminating lessons learnt and insights.


We work with a large group of interdisciplinary specialist, ranging from medical demographers, bio statisticians, clinicians and anthropologist as well as child psychologists, trauma experts and microbiologists. We practice interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research. Our work is designed and implemented by experienced professionals with a wide range of specialist skills. We facilitate postgraduate research and we are always creating new partnerships and exploring new possibilities and opportunities. Our work with commercial sex workers involved the training of commercial sex workers themselves and much of our published work has been made possible by involving traditional healers, members of communities and the beneficiaries of the findings of our studies.

People focused

All of our research programmes are targeted specifically at problems being faced by people living in poverty. Our research seeks to answer pressing questions concerning patterns of disease and causes of death. We are constantly exploring the dynamics and causes of illness, suffering and death in communities that are crippled by famine and drought. All of our published research from diarrhoeal infections to female circumcision, commercial sex work or trachoma blindness, change the way we respond to the needs of the people we work with. Research without practical application is unethical. We also believe that any research conducted in Africa must have immediate and direct practical benefit to the people themselves. It is our policy not to explore any research question unless there is a practical benefit that can come from the answer. We respect the people and communities that we work with, we have strict ethical criteria including informed consent and all our research is designed openly and transparently with the communities themselves.

Community focused

All of the research programmes you see in our active research activities, target immediate problems being faced in those communities. Our responsibility is to find out exactly what is going on. We also have the responsibility to the community to see if our efforts are making a real difference in fighting their poverty and suffering. We believe research should be owned by the people and that it should benefit those involved.