Project highlights priorities for global disease control

A Public Health paper in this week's issue of The Lancet summarises the key messages from the Disease Control Priorities Project (DCPP).

DCPP was launched in 2001 to identify policy changes and intervention strategies for the health problems of low- and middle-income countries. Nearly 500 experts from 34 countries have contributed to what is the world's largest health policy study to date. The mega-project is a partnership between the Fogarty International Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the World Bank, the WHO, Population Reference Bureau, supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In the paper the authors list the four important health challenges that face the world:

  1. High levels and rapid growth of cardiovascular, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases in developing countries
  2. The HIV/AIDS pandemic
  3. The threat of a successor to the influenza pandemic of 1918
  4. The high levels of mortality and disability from malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, and pneumonia.

The authors recommend that existing cost-effective interventions need to be adopted on a much wider scale to tackle these threats. Serious control of malaria, tuberculosis and prevention of new HIV-1 infections will be central to gains in sub-Saharan Africa. Higher tobacco taxes and low-cost "polypill" treatment for those with existing stroke or heart attack will be important for the control of cardiovascular disease and stroke. For the HIV/AIDS epidemic, treating sexually transmitted diseases and targeting condom distribution programs at high-risk populations such as sex workers are effective, low cost interventions state the researchers.

Author Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC, USA, concludes that "the next two decades could transform health in developing countries, but that will depend on controlling the diseases responsible for the greatest number o

Contact: Udani Samarasekera

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