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Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases launched to tackle killer diseases

The Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases, a unique initiative that brings together researchers, policy makers, funders and patient advocacy groups worldwide to focus research and expertise on this growing global health challenge, is launched today (25 April) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease have long been major causes of mortality and morbidity in high income countries, and are now reaching epidemic levels in the developing world. According to UN estimates, an estimated 36 million people died from NCDs in 2008, over 60 per cent of the 57 million global deaths that year; by 2030, they are expected to claim more than 50 million lives annually.

Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "The emerging epidemic of non-communicable diseases has potentially catastrophic consequences for global health. However, with co-ordinated intervention, we can successfully prevent and treat these diseases, saving millions of lives worldwide. This is a vital strategic priority, and we are working with our partners to establish this new Centre as a focus for research that can translate into effective action."

The Centre, which comprises more than 50 researchers, is formally launched at a conference today entitled Global Non-Communicable Disease: from research to action. Speakers include representatives of The Lancet NCD Action Group, NCD Alliance, Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, International Epidemiological Association and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Johanna Ralston, NCD Alliance Steering Group member and Chief Executive Officer of the World Heart Federation, said: "The UN Summit 2011 put the growing threat of NCDs firmly on the agenda, and now we are beginning to see co-ordinated action. The London School is to be applauded for creating this critically needed global health research centre. By fostering collaborations and working with partners worldwide, the new Centre will bring multicultural and multidisciplinary perspectives to bear on meeting this complex challenge."

The Centre for Global NCDs brings together the work of more than 50 researchers and experts across a range of disciplines, conducting NCD research in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific, as well as in the UK and other high income countries.

Professor Neil Pearce, Director of the new Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "We have much of the knowledge and technology we need to fight this epidemic, and we can do this in ways that are complementary to global health efforts already under way.

"Our Centre will support policy makers and researchers in low and middle income countries to work in collaboration with those in high income countries. We can achieve much more by working together, both to take action on the problems for which solutions already exist, and to research the problems for which the solutions are not yet clear."

Contact: Paula Fentiman
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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