IDRC Announces New Research Program on Communicable Diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, 23 August 2006 — Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is dedicating CA $1 million to new research to prevent and control vector-borne communicable diseases in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Vector-borne diseases are caused by parasites, viruses, or bacteria that insects or other carriers transmit from an infected person to an uninfected one.
IDRC and its partners, the InterAmerican Development Bank, the Organization of American States, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), are inviting research proposals that target three communicable diseases: malaria, dengue, and Chagas' disease. 

Chagas' disease is a chronic disease that devastates the health of millions of people among the lower-income rural populations of the LAC region.  It is estimated that approximately 15 to 18 million people in the region are infected and that 3 million of them may already suffer from chronic complications. 

Dengue is an endemic disease that is increasing in urban areas across the region.  In 1980, some 66 000 cases were reported.  That number rose to one million cases by 2002 and half a million new cases were reported in 2005 only. As for malaria, the past decade has witnessed a steady increase in cases among the countries of the Amazon Basin region (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela).

This project will involve citizens, governments, and other interested organizations in affected areas, including them in the design and implementation of  multidisciplinary research to better understand the factors in the ecosystem — social, cultural, and gender causes, for example — that allow vector-borne disease to spread. The knowledge will equip them to start changing policies and behaviours that facilitate disease transmission.

Proposals must be received by 31 October 2006. Approximately CA $220 000 will be allocated to four successful teams. 

"This effort takes an innovative approach to filling critical gaps in public health policies in the Latin American and Caribbean region. More importantly, it offers the region's poorest people help in confronting the huge burden caused by these diseases," said Federico Burone, IDRC's Regional Director for LAC

The announcement was made at the 11th World Congress on Public Health in Rio de Janeiro on 23 August.

More details on the Call for Proposals can be found at http://www.idrc.ca/ecohealth/

For further information:

In Ottawa:
Chantal J. Schryer
(+613) 796-8754,
cschryer@idrc.ca

In Montevideo:
Andrea Puppo
(+5521) 93 03 41 82;
apuppo@idrc.org.uy