The burden and early life origins of non-communicable lung disease: from burden and early life determinants to participatory inter-disciplinary solutions

Project Details


TUPUMUE, or "let’s breathe!" in Swahili, is a partnership between Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and is jointly funded by the National Research Foundation of Kenya and the Medical Research Council, UK.
The 3 year project aims to generate new scientific knowledge about the early life course origins, burden, determinants, and prognostic significance of non-communicable lung disease in Kenya by studying the lung health of children and adolescents from two very different communities.
The project will focus on children and young adults aged 5 to 18 from two areas in Nairobi: an informal settlement (Mukuru) and a wealthier area (Buruburu). Community members are being involved in all stages to ensure that the study is directly relevant to communities. For 1000 children in each community we will ask questions about lung symptoms, air pollution and known lung problems. Children’s lung function will be measured using a simple blowing test (spirometry) before and after they run for 6 minutes. We will measure air pollution experienced in the homes of 100 children in each community together with measurements made at strategic locations where children spend time. These monitoring results will be combined with the questionnaires to estimate exposure to air pollution for all those taking part.
To get an idea of the everyday experiences of lung problems and air pollution, we will ask around 300 primary school children in each community to draw their stories or bring in items they link to lung problems. They will discuss these activities with smaller groups of children. Older children will be asked to take part in walking interviews around their community to help us better understand what living in the community is like, their experiences of lung health, and their understanding of air pollution.
The information collected will be used to compare the children of Mukuru and Buruburu and to see if more children than expected have reduced lung function and at what age this is evident. We will also see if air pollution, birth weight and early life chest infections affect the lung function of children, and the extent to which the experiences of children the two communities differ. The study is large enough to make fairly accurate estimates of prevalence and to look for associations. The results of this study will be fed back to the two communities in ways they feel are easy to understand, including through the use of creative methods such as rap, comics, puppetry, street murals and videography.

Layperson's description

The Tupumue (Kiswahili: let us breathe) study aims to find out how many children in two communities in Nairobi, Kenya have lung problems and to explore children’s experiences of lung problems and air pollution. We will also see if the lung diseases seen in African adults start during childhood and what causes lung problems in children.
Short titleTupumue
Effective start/end date1/01/1931/03/22

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


  • lung health
  • Kenya
  • air pollution
  • child health
  • creative methods


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.