ICMR unveils 20 Grand Challenges to control the most deadly diseases

November 22nd, 2007 - 1:27 pm ICT by admin  

London, Nov 22 (ANI): The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with several of the worlds most renowned health scientists and organizations has come out with a landmark global consensus on the 20 primary measures needed to control humanitys most deadly diseases.

Chronic or non-communicable diseases are reaching world epidemic proportions and include cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), several cancers, chronic respiratory conditions, and type 2 diabetes.

All in all, 19 researchers carried out a composite study, and reported that chronic non-communicable diseases cause the greatest share of death and disability worldwide.

They also said that these ailments account for over 60 percent of deaths worldwide; cause twice as many deaths as the combined total of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, maternal and peri-natal conditions, and nutritional deficiencies.

Researchers used the structured consensus-building Delphi technique to create the Grand Challenges in Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) a representation of informed opinions drawn from 155 panel members across 50 nations, carefully selected from recommendations.

Study authors say the result is a solid list of the 20 most important challenges today to restraining and reversing the toll of these slow killer illnesses. The list of Grand Challenges is accompanied by research priorities for meeting them, drawn from the study data and finalized by 27 leading world health figures guiding the project.

Lead author Dr. Abdallah S. Daar of the McLaughlin- Rotman Center says that the 20 Grand Challenges are of equal precedence, and there is no priority assigned within the list.

The Grand Challenges are grouped under six broad goals:

Reorient health systems (e.g. Grand Challenge: Allocate resources within health systems based on burden of disease); Mitigate health impacts of poverty and urbanization (e.g.: Study and assess how poverty increases risk factors); Engage businesses and community (e.g.: Make business a key partner in promoting health and preventing disease; Develop and monitor codes of responsible conduct with the food, beverage and restaurant industries).

Rest are modify risk factors (e.g.: Deploy universally measures proven to reduce tobacco use and boost resources to implement the WHO framework Convention on Tobacco Control); Enhance economic, legal and environmental policies (e.g. Study and address the impacts of poor health on economic output and productivity); and Raise public and political awareness (e.g.: Promote healthy lifestyle and consumption choices through effective education and public engagement).

Identifying the Grand Challenges involved the Delphi method the structured, sequential, written questioning of a panel. The first round elicited 1,854 ideas, distilled into 109 from which the panel members selected and commented on their top 30. In the final round, panelists either accepted the list or reordered choices, and offered further comment.

The seven-member Executive Committee and 19-member Scientific Board milled the wording of the panels final 20 Grand Challenges, grouped them according to six goals, and suggested the key research requirements for reaching each goal.

The initiatives leaders say their goals are to galvanize the health, science and public policy communities into action on this epidemic, and to promote global debate, support and funding.

Providing priorities will be the major contribution from this Grand Challenges exercise. The growing interest in this area of research now being registered by governments and funding agencies alike suggests that substantial resources may be available in the future to pursue these priorities, Nature quoted Nirmal Ganguly, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, as saying.

Noting the economic impact of CNCDs, co-author Robert Beaglehole, former WHO Director (Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion), says that unless serious action is taken now, over the next decade China, India and the U.K. will lose an estimated 558 billion dollars, 237 billion dollars and 33 billion dollars respectively in foregone national income due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Leading partners behind the project are the McLaughlin-Rotman Center (MRC) for Global Health (University Health Network and University of Toronto), Toronto; the Oxford Health Alliance (OxHA), London; the UK Medical Research Council (UK MRC), London; the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Ottawa; and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda.

The study is published in Nature magazine. (ANI)

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