6 ‘Major Health Agencies’ Form Alliance To Address Chronic Diseases In Developing Countries

A group of “major health agencies” from Australia, Canada, China, the U.K. and the U.S., which “together control 80 percent of the world’s public health-research funding,” have joined together to form the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) to combat chronic diseases in developing countries, Time reports (Walsh, Time, 6/16).

GACD “will focus on the world’s most fatal non-communicable diseases: cardiovascular diseases – mainly heart disease and stroke – cancer, especially lung cancer, chronic respiratory conditions, and Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity,” AFP/Google.com reports (AFP/Google.com, 6/15).

According to Time, “the line between diseases of the rich (heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer) and those of the poor (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria) has blurred. As citizens of developing nations get fatter and take up tobacco-smoking – habits of the developed world – they are also under increasing threat from the same chronic noncommunicable diseases (CNCD) that ail the wealthy.” Twice as many people worldwide now die from CNCDs as from “infectious diseases, maternal and infant problems and malnutrition combined,” writes Time (Time, 6/16).

Without intervention, health experts believe that 388 million people around the world will die of these diseases within the next decade. Elizabeth Nabel, head of the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH, said chronic diseases are the cause of 60 percent of deaths worldwide, “80 percent of which are in low and middle income countries.” She added that a key goal of GACD is to train individuals “that would be able to be the health research and health care leaders” in developing countries (AFP/Google.com, 6/15).

The GACD aims “to pool its members’ experience and resources to identify, test and implement the best ways to slow the progress of chronic diseases – both in developed and developing nations,” Time writes. However, this could be “a tall order, particularly since no specific funding has been allocated for the GACD, and because chronic diseases work slowly, frequently falling to the bottom of global health priorities,” according to the magazine (Time, 6/16).  

GACD’s charter members include: the Australia National Health and Medical Research Council; the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences; the U.K. Medical Research Council; NHLBI; and the Fogarty International Center (McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health release, 6/15).

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