Initiative for Cardiovascular Health Research in the Developing Countries (IC-Health)

Why we need an initiative

Over recent decades, many low- and middle-income countries have experienced profound changes in population structure and disease patterns that have fundamentally changed their burden of ill-health. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and diabetes are now leading causes of death and chronic illness in most middle-income countries and many low-income countries. Over the next few decades, the burden of disease faced by these countries will double. All sections of society will be affected, but the poor will suffer most, primarily as a consequence of their limited access to health care. A large proportion of the victims will be middle-aged and in the prime of their working lives. The financial and social costs of these epidemics will be profound and are likely to adversely affect development and the alleviation of poverty.

Creation of the initiative

The Initiative on Cardiovascular Health Research in Developing Countries (IC-Health) was born in 1999 as a joint programme of the Global Forum for Health Research and the World Health Organization (WHO) Noncommunicable Diseases Cluster to promote and prioritize resource-sensitive and context-specific research addressing the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases in the developing countries.

Since 2006, IC Health has been a fully independent international Swiss Foundation with its secretariat hosted by the Centre for Chronic Disease Control (CCDC), New Delhi.

Objectives and focus

The purpose of IC-Health is to stimulate, support and sustain research which will inform policy and empower programmes for prevention and control of CVDs in developing countries. In this effort, IC-Health aims to support the following:

  • conduct of policy-relevant research;
  • development of research capacity;
  • strengthening of research institutions.

An initial focus of the activities of IC-Health is to develop and evaluate preventive intervention programmes that are: evidence-based, economically sustainable, socially equitable and culturally appropriate.

Key activities

The primary priority is the development and evaluation of primary health care programmes for the control of CVDs and diabetes.

In order to be suitable for low- and middle-income countries, these programmes have to:

  • be delivered by primary health staff using the existent infrastructure;
  • positively influence health-promoting behaviours;
  • result in minimum disruption to other important health services, such as maternal and child health care;
  • target those at higher risk;
  • be accessible to those in lower socioeconomic groups;
  • be acceptable to both recipients and providers.

In addition, IC-Health works in the following areas:

  • assessment of the global and regional economic consequences of CVDs and diabetes;
  • assessment of current cardiovascular research activity and investment in low- and middle-income countries;
  • assessment of existing capacity for the control of CVD in low- and middle-income countries;
  • investigation of the causes of CVDs and the consequences of diabetes in low- and middle-income countries.