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Global Health Policy Blog


I've blogged so often about the neglect of chronic diseases that it may seem tedious to bring it up again. However, this time I have good news. A new initiative has just been announced - with money behind it - to create five centers in developing countries to address the rise of chronic diseases.

What will these centers do? It's up to you. The RFP is refreshingly candid in saying that the sponsors don't have the solution. They are looking for creative ideas that will build capacity to lead developing countries away from the abyss of chronic disease epidemics. Initial applications are being accepted until September 4 to fund activities focused on prevention of chronic diseases - defined by the program as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and some cancers. In other words, many of the "lifestyle" diseases brought on by poor diets, lack of physical exercise, and tobacco use.

The sponsor of this exciting new program, Ovations, is a subsidiary of United HealthGroup - one of those gigantic "managed health" companies in the United States that seems to worry more about the bottom line than about health. Their reasons for spending $15 million to prevent chronic diseases in poor countries are still a bit murky to me, but maybe there is a clue in the preamble to their RFP:

The creation of centers has been a successful strategy for building capacity in areas such as infectious disease. Ovations plans to replicate this success. Centers will be expected to train and develop individuals who will become leaders and be ready to capitalise on the large flow of funds that is likely soon to be available for countering chronic disease in the developing world.

Maybe this initiative is expected to provide Ovations a new foothold in developing country health delivery. If so, attention to the growing presence of chronic disease isn't a bad place for them to start.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.