Expanding Reach of GACD


DENVER — There is a disconnect between developed countries and developing countries that provides an obstacle toward progress for the latter.

Domestic governments and organizations in the wealthier countries disagree about where to funnel their money and how to distribute it. That is where the middleman, in this case the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, or GACD, comes in to connect the world.

The overarching goal of the GACD is to propel research from inception to results with funding and organization. The research is a collaboration between the high-income and the low- to middle-income countries with the ultimate goal of fighting chronic diseases.

Begun in November of 2007, GACD was established as a response to a study that identified the depth of the problem that is chronic non-communicable diseases. These diseases include cardiovascular diseases, type-2 diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and some forms of cancer. Collectively, these diseases cause 60 percent of the world’s deaths, with 80 percent of these deaths occurring in developing countries, a number that will likely continue to rise.

The research done by GACD is aimed at both prevention and treatment of these diseases. With the proper lifestyle changes and advancements in medicine, many of these diseases are seen as entirely preventable, and GACD is trying to facilitate this prevention.

The GACD is allied with a variety of health organizations that assist in funding, including the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom.

The first global research initiative that GACD conceived began in 2012 and was based on preventing hypertension in low- and middle-income countries.  The National Health and Medical Research Council joined in on the initiative, committing $5 million to the effort.

Hypertension, which is synonymous with high blood pressure, is a instrumental factor that leads to other more serious conditions, like cardiovascular disease and stroke. The GACD has noted that in developing countries, there are a lack of strategies for managing high blood pressure and a need for the organization to take their initiatives global.

The hypertension research project focuses on preventing and managing high blood pressure, as well as controlling normal blood pressure. The research itself looks to improve upon and expand previous methods used to approach these issues.

With the continuation of this project, as well as other endeavors across the globe, GACD has identified its 2015 project, which will focus on the prevention and treatment of lung disease. For this research project, the organization will emphasize controlling tobacco usage as well as preventing exposure to harmful substances that contribute to lung disease.

As of now, tobacco consumption kills 5.4 million people every year, and without intervention, this number will climb to between eight and 10 million by 2030. Any way in which the organization can cut this number down with its research could mean incredible things for the health of the world.

For any of its research initiatives, GACD includes guidelines for how the research should be conducted to allow for the best results. They aim to include policymakers throughout the process, as well as ensure that the efforts don’t deprive local health care systems of any resources. The organization includes a training component, as well as a toolkit for future research programs in order to expand on previous ones.

With these guidelines as well as the funding and support of various organizations worldwide, GACD has the opportunity to lessen the burden of chronic diseases on the people of the world, particularly in poverty-stricken areas where the advancements of medicine have yet to gain traction.

Maggie Wagner

Sources: European Commission, GACD 1, GACD 2, Medical News Today, NHMRC, WHO

Photo: Flickr


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