Wednesday, 15 June 2016

How cricket and rural health are linked

Using cricket as a tool to promote infant health in South Asia may seem an odd public health program, but as Dr Naj Soomro explained, it neatly taps into social realities and draws on his many research interests.

Cricket life: new Mildura staff member, Naj Soomro brings an interest in sports medicine to his research and teaching role.

In Pakistan, for example Dr Soomro explained, only 37.8 per cent of mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies. The rest rely on formula which leads to either malnutrition or obesity, and is very expensive. In households where all decisions are made by men, indirect approaches such as tapping into the national love of cricket, can be an effective way to change grocery buying behaviour.

Taking their lead from a South African program that used soccer as a means of promoting HIV awareness, Naj and his fellow researchers at The University of Sydney, hope to replicate its success if their grant application is successful.

In the meantime, as a new appointment with Monash Rural Health, he’s busy in Mildura working three days on clinical education and two on his current research projects which revolve around his interest in sports medicine, especially cricket.

His research interests include injury epidemiology and prevention, sports performance and technology to aid sports research. In the past he’s used GPS units to measure levels of activity in sports players during a game. He is currently working on a project that uses sweat sensors to measure levels of hydration. But the interest in technology extends beyond sport.

Dr Soomro is currently working to establish relationships to facilitate research well suited to his current location: using drones to deliver medicine in remote areas. It will be a cross-disciplinary project drawing on both medical and engineering expertise.

But this recent PhD graduate from the University of Sydney is always attracted to “something different”. That’s what attracted him to this Mildura-based role in the first place: finding out how things work in smaller cities. While he recognizes that a rural base throws up logistical and partnership challenges, he’s open to the challenge. And they do play cricket in Mildura.

Sports medicine: Naj Soomro has taken part in sport at the highest level including as a medico at the 2014 FIFA Asian Cup

No comments:

Post a Comment