Jennifer Cabe or Irene Edwards
"On my first day on the job, I indicated that this department would be committed to U.S. support and technical assistance on global health, including tobacco control," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "This new NIH program offers an important opportunity to learn more about effective ways to prevent or reduce smoking rates worldwide, especially in developing nations."
According to WHO, tobacco consumption is the leading cause of preventable death and disability
in adults globally. Each year, approximately 4 million people worldwide die from tobacco-related causes. If current smoking patterns persist, the number of tobacco-related deaths will rise to 10 million annually by the year 2025, surpassing the death toll from AIDS, tuberculosis, automobile accidents, homicide, suicide, and childbirth combined. Seventy percent of this increase will occur in the developing world, where health care systems are inadequate to address current needs and will be strained to the brink by the burdens imposed by the expected magnitude of tobacco-related illness.
The goal of this innovative new research and training program is to reduce the burden of tobacco consumption in low- and middle-income nations by conducting observational, intervention, and policy research of local relevance and building capacity in these nations in epidemiological and behavioral research, prevention, treatment, communications, health services, and policy research. The program encourages applications linking behavioral science, social science, and basic science with clinical and operational aspects of health care research. It targets five key research areas: epidemiological and surveillance research, susceptibility and risk for smoking uptake, biobehavioral and social research, intervention research, and policy-related research. In addition to support for basic science, including the study of addiction, this program may provide support for projects that examine tobacco tax policies, marketing and advertising strategies, campaigns that promote a smoke-free norm, and prevention strategies targeted at youth.
FIC led the development of this program in close collaboration with NIH's National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). Scientists and health professionals from the developing world were consulted at all stages. "Our consultation with scientists from the developing world was crucial in helping us understand where the needs are most critical," said FIC Director Gerald T. Keusch, M.D. on behalf of the NIH partners. "Our aim in launching this program is to provide a framework of support for the development of data necessary to inform decision-making. As developing countries begin to grapple with the major toll that tobacco will take on individuals, families, and communities, and to establish national tobacco-control programs, it is essential that they have access to the best data."
For instance, although smoking among girls and women is relatively low in developing countries, there is evidence that it is on the rise. "One of the most important public health opportunities we have is in preventing a rise in international smoking rates among girls and women," noted NCI Director Richard Klausner, M.D. "Since the United States is a mosaic of populations, our expectation is that this international program will yield results to inform prevention, intervention, and policy strategies at home as well as abroad."
The World Bank estimates that 80,000 to 100,000 young people around the world become addicted to tobacco every day. According to NIDA Director Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., "Prevention programs that target youth are a must if any progress is to be made in addressing the tobacco pandemic. It has been proved that the earlier in life one starts smoking, the more difficult it is to stop. Since tobacco companies market their product to young people, the handwriting is on the wall in terms of the toll that we can expect if the course continues unchecked."
Training of young scientists is an integral feature of this new program and applicants are required to include a significant capacity and infrastructure-strengthening component in their proposals. FIC Director Keusch said, "Young scientists and health professionals trained through this research program will be well-equipped to ensure that evidence-based policies that are relevant in their local culture are put into place. This will benefit not only their own countries but the entire global community."
Applications are due by October 26, 2001 and the deadline for receipt of Letters of Intent to apply is September 4, 2001. The Request for Applications for this program may be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-TW-02-005.html
FIC is the international component of the NIH. It promotes and supports scientific discovery internationally and mobilizes resources to reduce disparities in global health. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Press releases, fact sheets, and other
FIC-related materials are available at http://www.nih.gov/fic.