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Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases Secretariat

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GACD (Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases Secretariat)

Reporting period: 2021-02-01 to 2021-07-31

The Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) is a collaboration of major international research funding agencies that combine their efforts to specifically address chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs currently account for 60% of deaths globally and a majority of these deaths now occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The alliance supports international collaborative implementation research projects that address chronic NCD health priorities in LMICs and in vulnerable and indigenous populations in high-income countries (HICs). The long term aim of GACD is to build relevant evidence to inform national and international NCD policies and hence contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals under section 3.42.
The GACD strategic objectives involve
• Investing in impactful NCD research;
• Building implementation science capacity and capability in relation to NCDs;
• Facilitating collaborations and partnerships to support GACD investment.

The funding agencies within the alliance are supported by a dedicated secretariat staff team who coordinate and support the activities of the alliance.
The GACD secretariat co-ordinates joint calls for implementation research projects. These calls focus on major NCDs (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, lung diseases and mental ill-health). Within the tenure of the grant under WP1 the GACD staff team has regularly convened a Strategy Board of the high level representatives of funding agencies to continue to identify, prioritise, align and agree future call topics. GACD has completed a joint call to explore the adoption of interventions for hypertension and diabetes at scale; together the agencies have committed US$51m to support research projects that address the scale up of strategies to reduce the burden of NCDs. The outcome of this call was widely communicated and information on each of the projects is available here

GACD secured agreement on a sixth call in cancer prevention that has been fully coordinated and facilitated by the secretariat team. The call launched in November 2019. Although the call timeline was extended as a result of COVID-19, with peer review activities taking place in early 2021. The GACD funding agencies have supported and individually announced the cancer prevention projects that will form the latest GACD Cancer Research Programme. The implementation projects supported include research in more than fifteen LMICs around the world associated with a range of cancers.
GACD has worked to facilitate agreement amongst the funding agencies on the topics for three future annual calls.

In addition, within WP2 the GACD secretariat proactively fosters networking amongst the worldwide project teams it supports through a range of events held during the year including webinars (annually in 2019, 2020 and 2021) and Annual Scientific Meetings (Bangkok November 2019, ‘virtual’ in November 2020). The programme, handbook and presentations for each of these are disseminated to the research network and funding agencies and are available from the GACD website.

GACD uniquely supports a growing cadre of implementation science investigators through the delivery of research capacity strengthening activities including Implementation Science Workshops and Schools for early to mid-career investigators. A Workshop and School were held in Bangkok in 2019 and a virtual School was held in December 2020.

To enhance the impact of its activities GACD supports a number of active cross cutting thematic working groups who matrix activities amongst the disease specific research programmes fostered through the individual calls. There have been a series of joint publications from these working groups highlighted and disseminated by GACD.
The GACD secretariat are supporting sustainability of its training of early career investigators in the development of a trainee cohort 2020 with a series of reunion meetings to further embed the initial learning activity. In March 2021 working with experts amongst its Research Network the GACD launched the GACD e-Hub, an online implementation science training platform as a key research capacity strengthening activity to provide broader global reach. Regular meetings of Strategy Board and Programme SubCommittee will continue to be convened as ideas are developed and aligned for future calls. In response to Covid19 more directly GACD has supported the creation of a new working group and has shared learning from projects response and adaption to working within a Covid context amongst its research network with a view to collating case studies. GACD has now collectively funded US $220m implementation research in over 110 projects in at least 70 countries world-wide (this will increase after the cancer call announcements). The GACD secretariat has supported a wider evaluation of GACD impact and the insight and outcomes of that review will be published later this year.