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Promoting healthy societies

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Public health research and disease- specific research drive international co-operation's health-related projects. Building strong health systems in any country, but particularly in those which are not in the economic front rank, is as much about creating the correct management policies as it is combating the causes and effects of disease.

Therefore, INCO-Med takes an holistic approach to promoting healthy societies, aiming to remove the burden of disease and, in the long term, support socio-economic activity. INCO has promoted the study of the effect on human health of man-made changes to ecosystems and landscapes. The knowledge gained here has helped the programme to finance projects which improve the environment and therefore the health of local people. A good example is the treatment of wastewater so that it can be reused for agriculture and, at the same time, pose less of a threat to human health.

Other research has included the development of diagnostic products, drugs and vaccines, and studies of reproductive health. Efficient delivery of services is as important as creating new cures.

That is why INCO has promoted research on health systems and health sector reforms, including: evaluation of health policies; examination of the management and finances of health services; the validation of health care delivery models; and studies to explore human resources, and gender issues.

Fighting serious infection

Leishmaniasis is an infection caused by protozoa of the genus Leishmania and transmitted by the bite of a sandfly. A project involving researchers from Turkey, Portugal, Israel and the Netherlands examined the spread of the disease, as well as diagnostic and control methods. Three diagnostic methods were rigorously compared and vaccination studies carried out that will add to the clinical understanding of the disease. Results included the establishment of a referral network to handle patients suffering from Leishmaniasis, operating in major hospitals in the Izmir region of Turkey.

 

Managing hereditary disease

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Two genetically inherited diseases - Thalassemia and sicklecell anaemia - were studied in Tunisia and Morocco, with the assistance of French researchers. The economic costs of both were examined along with their social implications, and techniques for diagnosis were evaluated. Technology transfer from the work has led to the establishment of two prenatal diagnosis laboratories in Tunis and Casablanca. What is more, the study team believes the three-year programme offers a solid basis to improve management of the diseases which are a public health burden in these two North African countries.

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Confirming the international role of community research