Foodborne disease in Africa (FOCAL project)

Project title

Foodborne disease epidemiology, surveillance and control in African low-middle-income countries (FOCAL)

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom Government, 2018-2022

Principal investigator

Tine Hald (Technical University of Denmark)

Collaborating institutions

University of Waterloo (Shannon Majowicz and Binyam Desta), Technical University of Denmark, Haramaya University, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mountain Top University, Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Otago University

Project summary

Foodborne diseases (FBD) have a high public health impact worldwide, with developing countries, and especially young children, bearing a disproportionately large part of the total burden. In FOCAL, we will estimate the burden of FBD in four African low-middle-income countries (LMIC) by combining different microbiological and epidemiological methods. We will identify the most important sources and risk factors for FBD in children

Partner countries

Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Nigeria


  • Establish best practice approaches in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) for estimating the public health burden of foodborne disease
  • Determine disease burden, risk factors, sources (food, animals and environment) and transmission routes for foodborne
  • pathogens causing diarrhea in children less than 5 years old in four African LMIC
  • Make recommendations for the future of foodborne disease surveillance
  • Promote cross-sectorial collaboration through data sharing

Framework of the FOCAL project

Focal Framework.

An important output of the FOCAL project is a fully functioning surveillance platform, where public-health, animal health and food safety organizations can share and analyze cutting-edge genomic pathogen data across sectors and countries. 


Desta, B.N., Gobena, T., Macuamule, C., Fayemi, O.E., Ayolabi, C.I., Mmbaga, B.T., Thomas, K.M., Dodd, W., Pires, S.M., Majowicz, S.E., Hald, T. Practicalities of implementing burden of disease research in Africa: lessons from a population survey component of our multi-partner FOCAL research project. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology, 2022, 19(1): 1-12.