New research center to address threat of chronic disease in China

A new international research center officially opened today in Beijing is designed to address the threat of chronic disease in China. Chronic diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease, cause 80 per cent of deaths in China, and these are projected to rise considerably over the coming decade. Many of these deaths are preventable. In order to tackle what has fast become a pandemic, high-quality health research leading to health improvement is a priority.

The new China International Center for Chronic Disease Prevention will focus on research and treatment for the control of conditions such as stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease and diabetes. The Center is hosted by The George Institute, China in partnership with Peking University Health Science Center.

"The Center aims to not only conduct high-quality research, but to develop local skills and leadership to ensure positive change, and to actively engage in advocacy and communication with policy-makers", said Center Director, Professor YAN Lijing, The George Institute, China.

"The Center will conduct large scale clinical research within short timeframes, and includes a major rural health initiative targeting cardiovascular disease as well as risk factors, such as high blood pressure", she added. A series of projects will also develop strategies for prevention and management of chronic diseases such as tobacco control, salt reduction and obesity.

The center was launched in conjunction with the 1st Annual Beijing Forum on the Prevention and Management of Chronic Diseases. The large partner network for the Center, including six international and six Chinese institutions, converged at the Forum to discuss global and national responses to the challenge of chronic diseases.

Highlighting the burden of chronic disease across the world, Principal Director of The George Institute for International Health, Professor Stephen MacMahon said the expected global rise in patients dying from cardiovascular diseases over the next few decades is enormous.

"There are a very large numbers of high-risk patients in locations where access to treatment and services is limited. Targeted research is critical for the development of affordable, effective and safe solutions. The establishment of the new Center will enable health agencies and government to make decisions based on the best available medical research evidence."

In China, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death, responsible for about 2.6 million deaths each year and major disease risk factors such as tobacco, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity are now widely distributed throughout the Chinese population.

The Beijing based Center is one of 11 centers in developing countries across the world, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the US National Institutes of Health and UnitedHealth Group.

The George Institute, China was established in 2006 by The George Institute for International Health, a global health research organisation, with bases in Australia, China, India and the UK. Its work in the areas of chronic disease and injury has influenced health policy and clinical practice around the world.