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Global health briefs February 2010

February 2010 | Volume 9, Issue 1

Top global health risks


The WHO has released data showing the bulk of the global death and disease burden falls on certain major health risks. High blood pressure is responsible for 13% of deaths worldwide, followed by tobacco use (9%), high blood glucose and physical inactivity (6% each) and being overweight or obese (5%).

Disability factors are not evenly spread across the globe or income levels. The leading risk factors are being underweight, unsafe sex and alcohol use, and unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene combined.

R & D investments up


Science and Engineering Indicators has released new data showing substantial increases in research and development investments in China, South Korea and Japan. The Japanese and South Korean rates were among the highest in the world in 2007, at 3.4% and 3.5% of gross domestic product, respectively. China’s rate has more than doubled, from .6% of GDP in 1996 to 1.5%.

"Chinese NIH" debuts


The National Natural Science Foundation of China has launched a medical department that plans to disburse the equivalent of US$150 million in government grants in 2010 to improve disease mechanisms, modernize traditional Chinese medicine, and create clinical applications from research study results. According to a report in Science magazine, some researchers believe the new organization will open up collaborative opportunities between Chinese and U.S. scientists.

Arctic conference proceedings published


The International Journal of Circumpolar Health has published the proceedings of the behavioral and mental health research meeting co-hosted by Fogarty and the U.S. Arctic Research Committee last June in Anchorage. U.S. and foreign researchers, government experts and tribal organizations focused on research addressing the disproportionately high rates of suicide, depression and alcoholism among Arctic residents. Fogarty's Dr. Marya Levintova and Natalie Engmann co-edited this journal issue with U.S. Arctic Research Commissioner Dr. Warren Zapol.

Global health agencies propose increased health data accountability


The WHO, Global Fund, World Bank, and other major global health agencies have issued a call for action to improve health data on developing countries. With more abundant and reliable data, countries will be better able to monitor and evaluate progress and performance, allowing them to respond to demands for increased accountability, according to the essay published in PLOS Medicine. Accountability is especially important for developing countries that have established international health partnerships but have been constrained by limited data availability, quality, and use.

National Institute on Aging funds 3 new centers


The National Institute on Aging announced it has committed more than $36.7 million over the next five years to support and expand its Centers on the Demography and Economics of Aging, a network of universities and organizations leading innovative studies on the characteristics of the aging population. The three new Centers, bringing the total to 14, will be established at Duke, Johns Hopkins, and Syracuse Universities. Fogarty is supporting the effort.

Sri Ramachandra University launches master’s in public health


Sri Ramachandra University (SRU), in Chennai, has recently launched a master's degree program in occupational and environmental health, the first of its kind in India.

This venture is supported by a grant awarded to the University of California, Berkeley, by the Fogarty International Center's International Training and Research Program in Environmental and Occupational Health. Kirk Smith, director of Berkeley's Global Health and Environment Program, will serve as a visiting professor.

SRU is located in Chennai, formerly known as Madras, the fifth largest city in India, with over 8 million in its metropolitan area.

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