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Research, Chagas

Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab

Photo: Headway / Unsplash
20/11/2019 - 31/12/2023
Ana Requena (ISGlobal) / Rosina Malagrida (IrsiCaixa)
Funded by
"la Caixa" Foundation

The Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab is an initiative promoted by the Barcelona City Council and the ”la Caixa” Foundation, in collaboration with the IrsiCaixa Living Lab for Health and ISGlobal, with the aim of strengthening the Barcelona Science Plan.

The project builds on the experiences of the IrsiCaixa Living Lab for Health and ISGlobal, which include a wide range of initiatives aimed at promoting research and open innovation in health. The Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab serves as a meeting point for a variety of social actors and a venue for expressing and addressing the needs of the community. The platform hosts initiatives seeking public participation in the co-design and implementation of research and innovation agendas.

The general objective is to facilitate a structure of intermediation where experts from different scientific disciplines and stakeholders from various parts of the system—including the general public—can meet to collaborate and optimise R&D&I processes, interventions and the development of public policies to achieve transformative change in the system to make it more open and inclusive, thereby enhancing its social impact.

Total Funding

€ 300,000

Our Challenges

1. Access to Comprehensive Care for People at Risk of Chagas Disease

For the past decade and a half, patients who left their countries in search of better living conditions have been showing up at the International Health Service at Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic, the Vall d’Hebron-Drassanes International Health Unit (PROSICS) and other medical facilities around the city. Most of these people decided to seek care at the urging of family or community members. The agency of everyday people has proved to be a fundamental force in the transformation of a stigmatised and silenced disease with a transnational dimension. 

The Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab has set up a community and professional network aimed at enhancing this transformation. Through co-creation among various community stakeholders and with the involvement of key specialist medical services, this initiative seeks to destigmatise Chagas disease, decentralise detection and care, and develop a transnational approach to the non-etiological treatment of the disease. 

To date, six co-creation workshops have been held with the participation of 50 people of different backgrounds, resulting in the creation of audiovisual materials designed to have a quick and effective impact on the population at risk of Chagas disease. The network continues to work on the design of a strategy to transform access to care for Chagas disease in the city of Barcelona and transnationally.

2. Access to Mental Health Care Services for the Immigrant Population

Mental health refers to a state of well-being that allows people to achieve fulfilment and cope with everyday challenges using the available resources. Mental health is determined by multiple personal, social and economic factors. In host societies, the mental health of migrants depends on whether the social and institutional environment generates a framework of conditions that make it viable, providing a social and material space that promotes well-being, and facilitating access to appropriate care services. Migrants may be exposed to risk factors associated with both the migration process and their current living conditions, while also being more vulnerable to barriers that prevent them from accessing care services. 

The Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab has set out to provide a venue for co-creation around mental health and migration. The aim is to generate a collaborative space with an intercultural perspective where, through innovative methodologies and co-creation, various stakeholders can come together to devise solutions on how to improve the immigrant population’s access to mental health care services.

More specifically, this project seeks to: 

  • Understand the mental health needs of migrants (taking into account gender as well as the diverse range of groups and situations contained within the migrant population).
  • Analyse the barriers to and facilitators of access to mental health care services in the public network.
  • Propose culturally competent strategies that facilitate access to and use of mental health care services.
  • Improve the coordination of existing resources.

3. Safe and Healthy School Environments

In most cities, the current urban model prioritises mobility by private motor vehicles and discourages active travel by foot or bicycle, especially for children. This use of urban space has a direct impact on air quality (pollution levels, temperature, noise) and levels of physical activity, while also affecting people’s health and well-being. More than half of the dose of air pollutants children breathe each day comes from exposure to road traffic on the way to school and in the vicinity of the school itself.

Because of the nature of schools and their distribution throughout the city, school facilities and their environs are public spaces that present a good opportunity for urban transformation aimed at improving the health and the physical and mental well-being of children and the community, while also promoting environmental justice and reducing inequalities. But this transformation cannot be achieved through the transformation of urban elements alone. Improving health in school environments requires a collective process of thought and transformation involving schools, families, local residents, neighbourhood organisations and public bodies.

The Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab has taken up the challenge of developing school environments as places for the protection of health, well-being and safety. Goals include: 

  • Reaching schools not yet involved in school environment transformation programmes.
  • Promoting safe and healthy school routes. Promoting public space development that encourages safe, active transport on journeys to and from school.
  • Promoting public space development that encourages use by children, their families and the community by making more space available, introducing more green infrastructure and ensuring safe use.
  • Improving the quality of school facilities, including playgrounds as multifunctional educational spaces that favour children’s physical and cognitive development and promote and protect the health and social cohesion of children, families and the local community.
  • Promoting the use of school environments, and playgrounds in particular, as safe and healthy public spaces for the community outside of school hours.

IrsiCaixa's Challenges

4. Fit4FoodBcn – Towards a more systemic model for promoting Healthy and Sustainable Eating (HSE) in the neighbourhood of La Verneda i La Pau in Barcelona

Our food system is currently facing multiple challenges that are the subject of growing attention and concern, including environmental degradation, climate change, and rising rates of overweight and obesity at a time when the health system is increasingly overloaded. The IrsiCaixa Living Lab for Health, within the framework of the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab, has set out to facilitate a transition towards a more effective model for promoting healthy and sustainable diets that relies on a more systemic and collaborative approach. Operating specifically in Barcelona’s La Verneda i La Pau neighbourhood, this project seeks to cultivate a community of practice using systems thinking, open science and co-creation methodologies over the course of two distinct phases: a strategic reflection phase and an operational phase. The process includes the co-definition of a shared strategic plan and collaboration on the ideation, prototyping and implementation of collaborative, systemic and impactful solutions. The project involves a wide range of stakeholders from different parts of the system, including health professionals, researchers, education and communication experts, professionals from the agri-food chain, and representatives of civil society and public bodies from La Verneda i La Pau, other neighbourhoods of Barcelona, and elsewhere in Catalonia. So far, more than 136 people from 64 organisations have taken part.

5. Co-ResponS(H)ibility – Towards a more systemic promotion model of Affective-Sexual Health (ASH) in Barcelona

Despite efforts to promote sexual and reproductive rights, as of today these rights have yet to be fully achieved. In other words, a safe and pleasurable sexuality, free from discrimination, coercion, sexual and gender-based violence, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), among other issues, is not yet guaranteed. This is a complex and persistent challenge. The IrsiCaixa Living Lab for Health, within the framework of the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab, has set out to facilitate a transition towards a more effective model for promoting affective and sexual health based on a systemic and collaborative approach. The Co-ResponS(H)ibility project seeks to cultivate a multi-stakeholder community of practice in Barcelona using different methodologies and innovative approaches based on systems thinking, open science and co-creation over the course of a strategic reflection phase and an operational phase. This process involves the co-definition of a strategic collective-action plan and the ideation, prototyping and implementation of collaborative, systemic and impactful solutions that meet the needs of society. So far, 47 stakeholders from more than 30 organisations representing different parts of the system have taken part in the project. These participants include health professionals, researchers, education and communication experts, and representatives of civil society, youth organisations, various government departments, etc.

6. Long Covid – For a more systemic healthcare and research model for Long Covid at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital

Long Covid is a disease that, according to the World Health Organisation, affects 10% of people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2. In June 202, the Long Covid Unit was set up at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital, with the support of the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation and IrsiCaixa. The Unit works to develop knowledge about the disease, develop protocols to fight Long Covid and offer a personalised response to those affected. In 2021, the Living Lab for Health at IrsiCaixa, within the framework of the Barcelona CaixaResearch Living Lab, initiated a project to support the Unit in the design of a more comprehensive, collaborative and decentralised care and research model for this disease. The end result will be a Collective Action Plan with Innovation Programmes to promote changes in the current model. The process involves different social actors, such as health professionals, researchers and patients. So far, 3 strategic workshops have been held with the collaboration of 57 participants.

Our Team

Project Coordinator at ISGlobal

ISGlobal Team