Welcome to the official site of the NIMR/MITU Social Science Group! We, the members members of this group are social scientists—of different backgrounds—working with the National institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the Mwanza Intervention Trials Unit (MITU) in Mwanza, Tanzania. As social scientists with theoretical and methodological expertise, we contribute to the design and implementation of various interdisciplinary research and intervention projects that are implemented in different parts of Tanzania by these two sister institutions.
NIMR—a parastatal organization under the Ministry of Health—is the largest public health research institution in Tanzania. Although its history dates back to the colonial era, present-day NIMR was established by the Parliamentary Act No. 23 of 1979. Established for that purpose, NIMR has since then become that organization the government depends on to generate scientific information, methods and techniques to manage, prevent and control diseases in Tanzania. It has research centers and stations across the country and NIMR Mwanza is one of its largest centers. Having collaborated with a number of institutions outside Tanzania, NIMR Mwanza is known for ground-breaking research on HIV—the quintessential being “the Mwanza trial” that was conducted between 1991 and 1995, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). You can read more about NIMR Tanzania, here.
MITU was established in 2006 by NIMR Tanzania and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) with funding from the UK Medical Research Council (MRC). The aim of establishing MITU was to build on the longstanding and highly successful research collaboration in Mwanza between these two institutions. Over the years, this collaboration has embarked on conducting randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to study the epidemiology and control of HIV and other STIs. Given the growth and expansion of this collaboration, now the unit conducts a broad range of research including the management of NCDs, reduction of intimate partner violence and many more. You can read more about MITU, here.
Why social scientists in these seemingly biomedical institutions? Many people wonder what a social scientist; say a sociologist or anthropologist would be doing in a biomedical institutions! The response is simple: (human) health is fundamentally social. That is to say, well-being and illness are mediated by social, historical, cultural, economic and political forces, processes and relations. Over the past decades, social research has demonstrated the world over that these forces, processes and relations influence health-seeking behavior and the varied distribution of disease among people, places, countries and regions. Thus, the social can neither be taken for granted nor be relegated to “an insignificant” factor because it is an integral part of human health. This situation has forged interdisciplinarity in medical research so that specialists from different disciplines can contribute their expertise to realize that ideal and desired human health. It is therefore not surprising that our two sister institutions have a good number of us, social scientists, working in different collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects.
We invite you to browse our website and learn more about our expertise, research interests and accomplishments, individually and as a group. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you in the future.
NIMR/MITU Social Science Group.