Kliniken & Institute … Institute Heidelberger Institut… Groups & Projects Research Projects DASH


Acronym: DASH

Director: Dr. Mary Mwanyika Sando

Co-Director: Prof. Dr. Dr. Till Winfried Bärnighausen

Funding: The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Participating Organizations:

Network Partners
1.     Africa Academy for Public Health (AAPH)
2.     Addis Continental Institute of Public Health (ACIPH)
3.     Nouna Health Research Centre (CRSN)
4.     Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH)
5.     University of Dodoma (UDOM)
6.     University of Ghana (UG)
7.     University of Ibadan Research Foundation (UIRF)
8.     University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)
9.     Heidelberg University – Heidelberg Institute of Global Health (HIGH)
10.   Technical University of Munich (TUM)

External Cooperating Partners
1.    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH)
2.    Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS)
3.    Management and Development for Health (MDH)


Project Leads

Mary Mwanyika Sando Director (AAPH)

Till Bärnighausen Co-Director (HIGH)

Adom Manu Ghana Representative

Ali Sié Burkina Faso Representative

Ayoade Oduola Nigeria Representative

Azan Nyundo Tanzania Representative

David Guwatudde Uganda Representative

Michael Laxy Germany Representative

Mosa Moshabela South Africa Representative

Yemane Berhane Ethiopia Representative

DASH researchers photographed at the Kick-Off meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania


Annually, 1.2 million adolescents die prematurely due to preventable or treatable causes, while many more suffer from poor health and disability. A high share of the global mortality and morbidity burden in adolescence occurs in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Adolescence is also a critical stage of life when important physical, cognitive and social developments take place, and critical behaviors related to diet, exercise, alcohol and tobacco use, violence and sexual behavior are developed. These developments and behaviors determine and shape behaviors well into adulthood and, with it, long- term health outcomes. Improving adolescent health, therefore, is paramount for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and creating healthy societies.

DASH brings together researchers working in population health and epidemiology, public health, health economics, health systems research, implementation science, design research, and intervention and policy evaluation from seven countries in SSA – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda – and Germany (Figure 1). The DASH collaboration builds upon an established research network on adolescent health in SSA. The overarching and long- term goal for DASH is to boost adolescent health in SAA through rigorous population-based intervention and policy research. In pursuit of this goal, we have designed the following 5 specific research objectives, which will be addressed in 6 Research Tasks (RTs):

Objective 1: Determine the key health risk factors and intervention needs among adolescents in SSA, adding novel measurements to existing Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems (HDSS) (RT1)

Objective 2: Develop a methodological framework for researching adolescent health interventions in SSA comprising (i) collaborative design research, (ii) impact and process evaluation, (iii) transportability and adaptation studies for transfer of research results and interventions across communities and countries (RT2)

Objective 3: Locally design and pilot test adolescent health literacy and nudge interventions in the three domains of (i) nutrition & physical activity (RT3), (ii) sexual & reproductive health (RT4), and (iii) mental health & violence (RT5), using ideation and implementation methods from design research

Objective 4: Establish the effects, impacts and mechanisms of adolescent health literacy and nudge interventions on health knowledge and understanding, health behaviors and outcomes in SSA, targeting the three key adolescent health domains using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) nested within HDSS and mixed-methods performance evaluations. These home-based interventions will be delivered by community health workers (CHWs)

Objective 5: Establish the effects, impacts and mechanisms of key national and regional adolescent health policies in SSA in the three domains using policy mapping, quasi-experimental study designs and mixed-methods performance evaluations (RT6)


The key functions to address these objectives are to combine the efficient collection and use of relevant adolescent health data, and the employment of robust quantitative and qualitative methods with local domain-specific expert knowledge on the health domains nutrition & physical activity, sexual & reproductive health, and mental health & violence.


Duration: March 2023 to March 2028

Contact person: Christine Neumann (christine.neumann(at)uni-heidelberg.de)