Professor Vicky Bird (Centre for Psychiatry and Mental Health) has been awarded a £7 million grant by the National Institute for Health and Care Research to co-direct a new Global Health Research Centre with partners across Latin America. The Centre will work with communities to develop innovative, low-cost solutions to improve healthcare for non-communicable diseases, with a key focus on indigenous populations.
The five year grant will enable QMUL researchers and their partners, including co-director Carlos Gomez Restrepo (Javeriana University, Colombia) and colleagues from universities in Bolivia and Guatemala, to investigate the best ways to manage long-term conditions, developing community-based interventions to change factors and behaviours linked to the development of long-term non-communicable diseases. The Centre will develop the skills of local researchers and clinicians, and will host a PhD and master’s programme to provide formal training for students in all three countries.
Non-communicable diseases such as mental health conditions, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and diabetes are responsible for 8 in 10 premature deaths, with the greatest burden in low- and middle-income countries. In Latin America long-term non-communicable diseases are a leading cause of disability and poor quality of life, and there is a lack of community-based care to help people manage long-term conditions, with most available care currently limited to hospital-settings.
Professor Bird said: “The Centre offers a unique opportunity to foster innovation, strengthen research and service capacity, and ultimately improve the quality of life for people with long-term conditions across Latin America - including individuals from often neglected indigenous communities.”