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Six leading international health research agencies form alliance to curb chronic diseases


Seattle, WA – The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) has joined five other leading world health agencies in forming a landmark alliance to collaborate in the battle against chronic, non-communicable diseases: cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), several cancers, chronic respiratory conditions, and type 2 diabetes.

The CIHR joined as charter member along with Australia’s National Health Medical Research Council; China’s Ministry of Health in association with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences; the UK Medical Research Council; and the US National Institutes of Health, specifically its National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the Fogarty International Center in forming the alliance. Together these agencies collectively manage an estimated 80% of all public health research funding.

In addition, the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, will be invited to join the alliance as a member. Research agencies from other countries and private funders may be invited to join in a second wave. The World Health Organization (WHO) is joining the alliance as an observer.

Called the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, it is being created to support clear priorities for a coordinated research effort that will address the growing health crisis, now reaching world epidemic proportions. Experts estimate that, unless action is stepped up, 388 million people worldwide will die of one or more such diseases within the next decade.

Work will focus in particular on the needs of low- and middle-income countries, and on those of low-income populations of more developed countries.

The following research priorities have been proposed by some founding alliance members, for discussion at their inaugural scientific meetings in November:

• Test ways to prevent cardiovascular diseases and complications of diabetes;
• Identify and promote public health measures for controlling obesity;
• Characterize and quantify the major risk factors for chronic obstructive airways disease (both tobacco and environmental pollution) and the development of control measures;
• Advance research into the problem of tobacco consumption and its relationship to cancer, cardiovascular disease and other disorders; and
• Develop interventions to address the above priorities.

“Canada is proud to collaborate with other countries in the fight against these chronic diseases,” says Alain Beaudet, president of the CIHR. “I believe that Canada can excel on the world stage by bringing our unique research talents to bear on these global health research problems that affect millions of people worldwide.”