International Projects

In collaboration with GHRCCA (Global Health Center of Central Asia) Staff, SIG leadership helps facilitate ongoing research projects in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Current Projects include Wings of Hope and Caravon. Additionally, SIG has expanded its work into Mayalsia with the funding of projects Waves and Zambia under an HISTP grant. To see a list of completed projects, click here.


The Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA) has received funding from USAID to research Tuberculosis and migration. The study will examine individual, social, and structural risk factors impacting migrants in four Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,Uzbekistan, Tajikistan). It is also designed to examine access, availability, and barriers to TB diagnosis, treatment, and services in these four countries. The study will be conducted by a number of investigators from the Columbia University School of Social Work and the Mailman School of Public Health, including two principal investigators Drs. Nabila El-Bassel and Neil Schluger.

Wings of Hope

Funded by the Open Society Foundations (2012-2013), the Wings of Hope project will test the feasibility and preliminary effects of the Women Initiating New Goals for Safety (WINGS) intervention, which was designed to increase the identification of intimate partner violence (IPV) and gender-based violence (GBV), and improve outreach to services among women drug users in Kyrgyzstan. On going research will be facilitated by the Global Health Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA) and two Local NGOS.  Based at Columbia University, GHRCCA integrates a multidisciplinary team of faculty, scientists, researchers, and students committed to advancing solutions to health and social issues in Central Asia and the surrounding region.

This study also aims to build the capacity of local NGOs to collect systematic de-identified data on IPV/GBV and use the data to advocate for more effective policies and programs to redress the widespread problem.Activities will include the adaptation of an IPV/GBV screening, a brief intervention and referral service (WINGS intervention to Wings of Hope) using data collected from focus groups and key informants. Staff from two local NGOs in the capital of Bishkek will be trained to deliver the intervention, and collect systematic data using DatStat Management Systems. The effectiveness of the intervention during this pilot will be evaluated as we examine organizational factors that impede or facilitate the delivery of intervention to inform a future larger scale implementation study.

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Zambia Pilot Study

Labor migrants from low and middle income countries migrate for economic reasons but are frequently employed in what has been termed 3-D jobs, (dangerous, difficult and demeaning) where they are vulnerable to hazardous working environments, exploitation, violence and other potentially traumatic events. In recent months, five Zambian truck drivers were killed allegedly by Congolese at the border post of Kasumbalesa in Zambia (Times of Zambia, 2014).  The relationship between PTE, sexual and drug risk behavior and the spread of HIV among Western populations has been well established in the literature. However, our understanding of the meaning of PTE, and the resulting impact among Zambian labor migrants is unknown.

The proposed study aims to fill the gap in understanding the relationship between potentially traumatic and stressful life events, problems resulting from these events and HIV risk behaviour among migrant populations in Zambia. To inform the development of a culturally congruent assessment of problems, this project also aims to gain understanding of the local expressions of distress, which may not be accounted for by the Western constructs.

This project is a part of the HIV Intervention Science Training Program which aims to train and develop underrepresented junior faculty in HIV prevention science.


Despite recent data suggesting that fishermen in Malaysia have much higher rates of HIV than the general population, to date, research has yet to examine the HIV risk behaviors among this population and the forces that may be driving the HIV epidemic among fisherman in Malaysia.  Dr. Nabila El-Bassel, Dr. Louisa Gilbert and Dr. Elwin Wu from the Social Intervention Group have served as Co-Investigators on a quantitative study to assess HIV and injecting drug use prevalence and determinants of HIV risks among fishermen in Kuantan, Malaysia which is led by Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman at the University of Malaya. This 3-year study is funded by the University of Malaya and the World Bank. Enrollment and data collection for study was recently completed and data analysis is under way.