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NCDs and their social determinants in Mediterranean partner countries: building sustainable research capacity for effective policy intervention

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Boost in research capacity for public health in the Mediterranean region

Low- and middle-income countries are bearing the brunt of the rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer and diabetes. An EU initiative enhanced relevant research capacity for long-term sustainability in the healthcare systems in the Mediterranean.


As a follow-on from the MEDCHAMPS initiative, the EU-funded RESCAP-MED (NCDs and their social determinants in Mediterranean partner countries: Building sustainable research capacity for effective policy intervention) project sought to build research capacity to more fully understand and explain the social and environmental factors causing the rise in NCDs while identifying achievable policy outcomes and interventions. RESCAP-MED filled the gap in trained personnel to monitor public health trends and the dynamics of the health systems in the eastern and southern Mediterranean countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. RESCAP-MED brought together partners in leading research institutes in each of these countries, alongside EU partners in the UK and Ireland, and the World Health Organisation’s East Mediterranean Regional Office (WHO-EMRO). It prioritised five disciplines: epidemiology, health economics, environmental health, medical anthropology and health policy evaluation. A series of 10 workshops enhanced the knowledge and skills of nearly 200 participants, 6 of which focused on research methods in the 5 priority disciplines. Three covered writing and one dealt with training needs assessment. Two high-profile international symposia were held: one on the social and environmental determinants of NCDs and implications for policy (Istanbul 2013); the other on the challenges posed for NCD management in a context of political turbulence (Beirut 2014). A visiting fellowship programme enabled researchers to acquire new skills and knowledge and to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals. In total, 18 research visits were made by 13 fellows. To create a sustainable e-learning environment beyond the life of RESCAP-MED itself, the North Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and Turkey Public Health Network (NETPH) website was launched. It has since evolved and now serves the wider academic community of NCD researchers with news, events, relevant publications and training materials. RESCAP-MED helped to boost research capacity to tackle the growing problem of NCDs despite the turbulent times in the region. Academic institutions in the area, policymakers in government and non-governmental organisations engaged in the development of national health system infrastructures that all stand to benefit from.


Research capacity, public health, Mediterranean, non-communicable diseases, policy intervention

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