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NIHR and MRC join forces to tackle global chronic disease

Published: 24 October 2019

We have joined forces with the MRC to invest over £6m in five implementation science projects focused on tackling diabetes and hypertension in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). These projects will unite with over 25 international research projects from across 40 different countries in a landmark collaboration under the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD).

The GACD is a unique collaboration of fifteen of the world's largest health research funding agencies. Its goal is to tackle the burden of non-communicable diseases in LMICs by systematically building the evidence base for sound policymaking through implementation science. Collectively, the GACD agencies will commit USD 50 million in support of the the Scale Up Programme research projects.

Every year, 15 million people die from a non-communicable disease, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, and diabetes. This is the equivalent of 71% of all deaths globally, most of which occur in LMICs. Unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke, the harmful use of alcohol, as well as rapid unplanned urbanisation and an ageing population, all contribute to the increase in the number of people affected.

The intention of the GACD Scale Up Programme is to enhance the scale-up of evidence-based, effective interventions for the prevention or management of hypertension and/or diabetes at the population level in LMICs using an implementation science approach.

In practice, translation from a pragmatic trial to the real-life commissioning and continuous delivery of an intervention across a health system is a huge political and economic challenge. These projects will see researchers work in partnership with policy makers, including local government ministries, as well as development banks, in order to evaluate and refine strategies to scale-up evidence-based practices into public health, clinical practice, or community settings at the regional or national level.

Mark Palmer, MRC Director of International Relations and Chair Elect of the GACD, says: "Through this multi-million dollar investment, the GACD is making an important contribution to global research in low and middle-income countries and to indigenous communities and vulnerable populations in high-income settings. Each project has a unique collaboration with a research centre in a high- and low-income country. Through this alliance, funders are making a significant impact in the fight against chronic diseases at country level."

The GACD Scale Up Programme of research will form part of the global GACD research network of over 900 researchers working in over 65 countries. This ambitious programme will contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by seeking to improve health and wellbeing at a global scale and, by 2030, reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one third through prevention, treatment, and better promotion of mental health and well-being.


  • Scaling up the Primary Health Integrated Care Project for Chronic Conditions in Kenya: an implementation research project (Professor Pablo Perel, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
  • Evaluating the role of pharmacists and m-Health strategies in the management of hypertension in General Pueyrredon* (Professor Pablo Perel, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) - MRC/NIHR will co-fund this project in partnership with MINSAL of Argentina
  • The Bangladesh D:CLARE Project (Diabetes: Community-Led Awareness, Response and Evaluation) (Dr Edward Fottrell, University College London)
  • School-based education programme to reduce salt: Scaling-up in China (EduSaltS) (Professor Feng He, Queen Mary University of London)
  • CHArMING - Control of Hypertension and diabetes in Minas Gerais (Professor James Batchelor, University of Southampton)

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