A project set up to provide the first systematically collected population health data for women in Northern Cyprus has received a number of generous donations. This support will enable researchers to better understand health and illness patterns, as well as the personal, social and economic burden of disease, in this relatively isolated region.
Through the Cyprus Women’s Health Research (COHERE) Initiative, women’s healthcare information will be collected and compared with the rest of Cyprus and other European countries. Due to its political context, this type of health reporting has not been conducted in Northern Cyprus for over 40 years, with public health issues going largely unexplored to date.
The project has the potential to promote evidence-based reproductive medicine in the region. This will not only benefit the local population, but will also help to establish an Eastern-Mediterranean women’s health resource, facilitating further investigation into the influence of lifestyle and genetic factors on female health in Northern Cyprus.
Obstetrician and Gynecologist Professor Mustafa Bahceci is the project’s lead donor. He says: ‘We are very well aware that the prevalence of endometriosis – one of the conditions that the study is going to investigate – is on the rise. For this “syndrome of the modern era”, therapeutic options in older ages become more cumbersome and less efficient, making early diagnosis and management extremely valuable. I believe that besides its epidemiological impact, the results of the COHERE study will open new doors for preventive and reproductive medicine approaches in the region.’
In addition to his donation, Professor Bahceci will also provide free clinical follow-up for the COHERE Initiative through his company Bahceci IVF Hospital Group.
The project has also received generous support from the Cyprus Women’s Health Research Association, a local NGO that raised £10,000 following an extremely successful crowdfunding campaign. The association will act as a bridge between Oxford’s research team and the local community, delivering research findings to raise public awareness.
COHERE is led by Dr Nilufer Rahmioglu, Senior Research Fellow, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics and Visiting Fellow, Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Oxford. She says: ‘We are thrilled to bring the COHERE Initiative to life, and would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of the project’s supporters. As well as aiding in the understanding of regional women’s health and illness patterns, the findings of the study will form the bases of investigating the Cypriot adaptation of the “Mediterranean lifestyle”, as well as the influence of genetic factors in this Eastern-Mediterranean population.’
Dr Rahmioglu has also established a fruitful research collaboration with the Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU), which is providing a field team for the project, as well as transportation and professional translation services. Professor Necdet Osam, Rector of EMU, says: ‘We are always keen to be involved in projects that help or interest the local community, whilst also looking to grow by participating in international educational collaborations. On behalf of EMU, I would like to wish the best of luck to all involved in the collaborative project, as we wait for its interesting findings to emerge.’