Health

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Innovative approaches to address primary prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases

Across the world, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have overtaken acute infectious diseases to become the leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally. In addition to mental disorders, NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease and cancers share the common lifestyle (behavioural) risk factors of tobacco use, unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol, and physical inactivity. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020, NCD deaths will increase by 15%. The rise in NCDs is accompanied by prolonged economic impact; the cumulative lost economic output for 2011-2025 is estimated at more than US$7 trillion in low and middle income countries alone.

In Australia, 91% of deaths are now attributed to NCDs. In Australia, diabetes alone affects at least 1.1 million and is the 4th largest contributor to overall disease burden. The total costs associated with diabetes are estimated to be as high as $14 billion. Rising rates of obesity will only increase the prevalence of diabetes in Australia so it is not surprising that a new government taskforce has been established to prioritise national responses including prevention efforts and addressing the impact in the community. In Australia, NCDs and NCD risks (eg smoking, obesity) are most commonly experienced in the most disadvantaged communities, including in Indigenous communities.

While NCDs were once perceived as diseases of rich people in rich countries, the influence of the underlying drivers of NCDs (globalisation, urbanisation, powerful transnational corporations, economic development and ageing populations) is increasingly also being felt in emerging economies such as Indonesia. As in Australia, addressing the future burden of NCDs is a feature of all recent health plans that relate to Indonesia. For example, within the WHO Country Cooperation Plan Strategic Agenda for Indonesia (2013-17), 3 of 5 Strategic Priorities relate to NCDs. For example, Strategic Priority 2 is about promoting public health approaches to preventing and controlling NCDs. Strategic Priority 3 is about promoting policies and strengthening programmes to improve child, adolescent and reproductive health including primary prevention of NCDs.

While the burden of NCDs falls most acutely on adults, the risk factors that contribute to NCDs have their onset in early life, including during pregnancy (eg. gestational diabetes), in early childhood (malnutrition) and in adolescence (smoking, physical inactivity and obesity). It is for this reason that prevention strategies to address adult NCDs must commence during these early years.

Strategic research vision:

To reduce the burden of NCDs through innovative approaches which address primary prevention of NCD risks.

Heath and Medicine Cluster goals:

  • To increase understanding of the importance of reducing NCD risk factors in the early years in both Australia and Indonesia; and
  • To influence policy and practice in effective primary prevention of NCDs in Indonesia and Australia.

Brochure

Cluster Leadership

Dr Susan Sawyer

Dr Susan Sawyer

Chair of Adolescent Health in the Department of Paediatrics

University of Melbourne

Dr Budi Wiweko

Dr Budi Wiweko

Lecturer

Universitas Indonesia

Dr Kirsty Foster

Dr Kirsty Foster

Associate Dean (International) and Head, Office of Global Health

University of Sydney

Dr Achmad Romdhoni

Dr Achmad Romdhoni

Lecturer

Universitas Airlangga

Christianne O'Donnell

Christianne O'Donnell

Health Cluster Coordinator

The Australia-Indonesia Centre

Strategic Research Projects

Small Projects