School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Non Communicable Disease Surveillance and Research Group

International NCD Surveillance and Research Group

Welcome to the home page for the International NCD Surveillance and Research Group

The four major non-communicable diseases (NCD) are cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes mellitus, several cancers, and chronic obstructive lung disease. The major NCDs are responsible for considerable but different patterns of illness and premature mortality in various countries throughout the world. The geographic scope of NCD as an important population heath issue, and causing significant premature mortality, now covers most middle income countries, and some high income and upper low income countries, with both significant increases and decreases in premature mortality from various NCDs over the 20th Century, and to the present time.

The major NCDs are linked through overlapping and inter-acting risk factors related to diet (energy, saturated fat, salt), physical activity, and tobacco and alcohol intake. In association with individual susceptibility, these risk factors produce intermediary conditions of obesity, and raised blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. These risk factors are strongly associated with socio-cultural and economic factors, as well as individual behaviour.  

The International NCD Surveillance and Research Group is involved in research, teaching and service aimed at prevention and control of the major NCDs. We conduct research into the causes, prevention and control of morbidity and premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic obstructive lung disease. This provides essential strategic information needed for design, implementation and evaluation of effective and cost-effective interventions at a population level to reduce morbidity and premature mortality from these illnesses. The main geographic areas of focus have been Pacific Island states, Australia and New Zealand, and comparisons with other countries. The research focus is on tracking trends in NCD risk factors and premature mortality (by cause) at a population level, determining the effects of NCD premature mortality on trends in overall mortality and life expectancy, relating changes in risk factors to changes in mortality, and modelling likely effects of various types of population interventions on premature mortality and morbidity. Research is funded through successful research grant applications and consultancy contracts.

The International NCD Surveillance and Research Group has designed and runs an annual Masters-level short course on ‘Global NCD Control: Population Approaches’ (PHCM9786) during the SPHCM Summer School in November-December which is open to students in the SPHCM UNSW MIPH, MPH and MHM, or from other Masters programs at UNSW and other Universities in Australia and elsewhere, and to non-enrolled participants from Australia and New Zealand, and the Asia and Pacific regions. The latter have often been employees of national health departments and regional or international agencies. Further, the NCD group provides input into other taught Masters courses when requested. Members of the International NCD Surveillance and Research Group are also engaged in research teaching, and supervise several candidates enrolled in a PhD, or MPhil or Masters by research, or undertaking research projects as part of their coursework Masters degrees.  
The NCD Surveillance and Research Group provides advice, assistance and consultancy services to national (including Ministries of Health), and regional and international agencies concerning the surveillance and control of NCD in Australia and New Zealand and the Asia Pacific. This includes advice on aspects of surveillance and control of particular NCDs, and participation in expert committees or consultations, and training courses.