The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), UK has granted £10 million to The George Institute for Global Health, India and Imperial College London towards establishing a Global Health Research Centre on Non-Communicable Diseases and Environmental Change. The Centre will work to tackle the dual challenges of a rapidly growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the threat of global environmental change in Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

“LMICs face dual, intertwined challenges of a rapidly growing burden of NCDs and the existential threat of global environmental change. Our Centre will focus on three major challenges at the interface of NCDs and environmental change - air pollution, water salinity and food systems and generate actionable evidence for improving health outcomes and reducing inequities in a cost-effective manner”, said Vivekanand Jha, co-lead of the Centre and Executive Director of The George Institute for Global Health, India.

The NIHR Global Health Research Centre for NCDs and Environmental Change includes an interdisciplinary group of academics from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Research (Bangladesh), Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education & Research (India), and University of Brawijaya (Indonesia), who will work to address specific health concerns related to environmental change.

In India, the Centre’s work will include the implementation and evaluation of cost-effective, sustainable changes to food aid baskets in the states of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. These changes aim to improve dietary diversity for NCD prevention, targeting diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The centre will work with ICDDR in Bangladesh to identify and test cost-effective, sustainable solutions to reduce salinity in the water supply in the districts of Khulna and Satkhira. It has also taken up the issue of air pollution caused by plastic burning as an area of research in Indonesia. Researchers will test a range of multi-sectoral interventions to reduce exposure to air pollutants caused by the burning of plastic waste in the Malang district, in East Java, targeting cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“The Centre will allow participating institutions to develop their capacity to deliver the high quality, trans-disciplinary research that policymakers and communities need to reduce the impact of climate change on health in our focus countries and beyond”, said Christopher Millett, co-lead of the Centre and Professor of Public Health at Imperial College London.

The funding for the Centre will cover a five-year period from October 2022.

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