New Center for Global Health Research will strengthen health care and build research capacity in non-communicable diseases

The new center will work with communities in Latin America to develop innovative, low-cost solutions to improve health care for non-communicable diseases, with a focus on indigenous populations. Professor Carlos Gomez-Restrepo, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Javeriana University (Colombia), assumes the role of co-director of the Center alongside Professor Bird.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are diseases that are not transmitted from person to person, such as mental health problems, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases or diabetes. Globally, they are responsible for 8 out of 10 premature deaths, with the greatest burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

This includes countries in Latin America, where long-term NCDs are a major cause of disability and poor quality of life. There is a lack of community care to help people manage long-term conditions, with most currently available in hospital settings.

The NIHR Global Health Research Center for Community Management of Long-Term Conditions will bring together researchers from Queen Mary University of London and three sites in Latin America – Universidad Javeriana in Colombia, Universidad Franz Tamayo in Bolivia and Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala.

Working closely with Universidad Javeriana, a leading university in Colombia, the Center will study the best ways to manage long-term conditions, developing interventions using the resources available within the community to modify the factors and behaviors related to the development of long-term NCDs. .

The Center will develop the skills of local researchers and clinicians and host a PhD and Masters program to provide formal training for students from the three countries.

The NIHR Global Health Research Centers program funds research-focused partnerships between LRIC institutes and the UK to conduct high-quality research and build institutional capacity within LMICs to undertake, manage and disseminate high quality applied health research. The Latin American Center is one of five research consortia to have received funding under this new program and is the only one based in Latin America.

Professor Faith Osier, President of the International Union of Immunological Societies and Chair of the NIHR Global Health Research Centers Funding Committee, said: “These new centers are truly groundbreaking – this is the first time we see something like this level of investment. in non-communicable disease research in low- and middle-income countries. The potential for this truly equal partnership between LMIC and UK researchers is immense and we are excited to see the progress the next five years will bring.

Victoria Bird, Principal Investigator and Co-Director of the Center, said, “We are delighted to have been recognized by the NIHR Center for Community Treatment of Long-Term Conditions in Latin America. The Center will be the perfect opportunity to strengthen our existing partnership with PUJ as well as forge new links with institutions in Guatemala and Bolivia. The Center offers a unique opportunity to foster innovation, build research and service capacity, and ultimately improve the quality of life for people with long-term illnesses in Latin America, including people from often overlooked indigenous communities.

Carlos Gomez-Restrepo, MD, MSc, PhD, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and the NIHR LEAD Center in Latin America, said, “This is a one-of-a-kind project and a unique opportunity where we hope to form a critical mass of research in Latin America, to ultimately seek solutions and improve the quality of life of people with chronic non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, respiratory diseases and mental illnesses »

Astrid Liliana Sanchez, Vice President of Research at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, said: “For the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, the work that will be carried out with this program is of the utmost importance. This will give us the opportunity to create space for the integration of our body of work in different regions of Colombia, with all its diversity, to support the development of previously non-existent links with other Latin American countries, in articulation with global and interdisciplinary development. ”

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