What we do

What is ACACIA?

ACACIA (Achieving Control of Asthma in Children in Africa) is a research programme stretching across seven African countries and the UK, who are working together to understand and improve the quality of life for young people with asthma in Africa.

A sudden rise in numbers of children with asthma in Africa means that healthcare systems are often not prepared, and awareness or understanding about asthma is low. We suspect that many young people with asthma in Africa are not diagnosed, do not receive necessary healthcare, or are not aware of appropriate ways to self-manage their condition. We want to find out more about children with asthma in Africa and find the best ways to help them in the future.

Our research teams will work with schools to screen children between 12 and 14 years of age for asthma symptoms and diagnosis. Children who are then identified to have asthma symptoms take part in the main study, filling in a questionnaire about their asthma control, medication and access to healthcare, knowledge and beliefs, as well as environmental factors. The researchers also look at lung function using spirometry and FeNO examinations.

Our teams are then talking to some of the children in focus groups, discussing how we can address the challenges that exist for their asthma management. In a second part of the research we want to develop interventions based on our findings that can improve life with asthma for African children. We are looking at adapting methods from the UK-based  My Asthma in School Project, including an interactive theatre performance.

What is CAPPA?

CAPPA (Children’s Air Pollution Profiles in Africa) is an extension of ACACIA which aims to describe the burden of personal air pollution exposure, and its connection to lung health, in urban children with asthma symptoms in sub-Saharan Africa.

Personal air pollution monitoring will be carried out by a subset of ACACIA children, and children from a new centre, using backpacks equipped with monitoring devices. Additional information about environmental exposure and symptoms will be collected by survey. 

The personal air pollution data will be analysed for exposure patterns which will be used to explore potentially detrimental effects of air pollution, and the feasibility of mitigation strategies in children with asthma symptoms identified by the ACACIA study.


We hope that our research will be able to improve the quality of life for young people with asthma and their families in Africa. We also hope that the programme will increase people’s understanding and awareness of asthma.