The Multilink Consortium
The Multilink Consortium: is a UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded Global Health programme administered through Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) with five partner organisations, including the University of Manchester. It is being conducted through collaborative partnerships in Malawi and Tanzania and seeks to design and test a system that identifies patients suffering from multiple chronic diseases (multimorbidity) when they seek emergency care in sub-Saharan African hospitals. The overall aim is to improve early disease treatment, ensure better follow up (prevent complications, disability and hospital readmission), thus improving health related quality of life and survival rates.
Led by Multilink co-investigator Professor Paul Dark, the University of Manchester through HCRI is providing project expertise and PhD co-supervision in rapid diagnosis in emergency care and advising on evidence and policy for resilient health systems.
The research is funded till August 2025 by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
Multimorbidity is increasing in sub-Saharan Africa due to high burdens of infectious disease (such as HIV) and rising rates of non-communicable diseases (such as hypertension and diabetes). The prevalence of multimorbidity increases as people live longer and can be worsened by HIV and the drugs required to treat it. Patients frequently delay seeking help until they are severely ill, affecting the poorest people most, meaning that emergency departments are key to healthcare delivery, and might be targeted to identify sufferers and link them to the most appropriate primary care services for ongoing treatment.
The collaborative team will define how multimorbidity differs from high income countries so that the intervention is locally relevant, and then test it in a clinical trial across both countries. The leadership team includes Charity Salima, a community group leader in Malawi, ensuring that patients’ voices are driving the research agenda.
The multilink project aims to research ways to identify multimorbidity (such as high blood pressure, diabetes and HIV) by improving diagnostic tests in emergency departments in hospitals in Malawi and Tanzania.
Working with patients and healthcare professionals, we will investigate how improved diagnostic testing could be most effectively acted on in hospital and how much this would cost. With the help of community groups and primary healthcare facilities we will find how best to link patients with long-term care.
After mapping how the health system works, we will work with policymakers and patients to find the most efficient and preferred approach to testing and clinical management pathways.
As part of this programme of work, the Multilink consortium have funded four multidisciplinary PhDs, who will lead the main research areas in the disciplines of clinical medicine; health economics; health systems; and social science.
For further information on the project, please contact: