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13 May 2009
Children and young people in the UK are set to benefit from a new centre of excellence focused on tackling health issues of most concern to them.
Led by Cardiff University the new Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) brings together leading experts from a range of disciplines to strengthen public health research in Wales and the South West of England, and identify effective ways to improve the health of the public.
Within the University, DECIPHer is a collaboration across four Schools, Social Sciences, Medicine, Dentistry and Law.
The major health problems that face us today are the poor health and life expectancy of deprived populations and preventable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The major causes of these problems include social, environmental and behavioural issues such as physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, poor housing and economic inactivity. Exposure to these causes over the life course are largely determined at a young age, where youth culture, family breakdown, antisocial behaviour, disengagement from school and the adoption of behaviours such as smoking, binge drinking and sedentary lifestyles can hugely affect long term health.
DECIPHer will focus on the determinants of health and health behaviour among children and young people and identify effective policies and interventions to improve health and well being and reduce uptake of risk behaviours.
The Centre will be led by the Director Professor Laurence Moore, also Director of the Cardiff Institute of Society, Health and Ethics, with colleagues at the University of Bristol, led by Professor Rona Campbell, and Centre for Health Information, Research and evALuation (CHIRAL) at Swansea University, led by Professor Ronan Lyons.
It is one of five new Public Health Research Centres of Excellence in the UK which have been established by eight funding partners under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), but the only one to focus on the health and well being of children and young people.
Dr Tony Jewell, Chief Medical Officer for Wales said: "There is no doubt that health in Wales is improving yet we are still behind the rest of the UK and Europe. This new Centre will be vital in building even more capacity in the quantity and quality of world-leading public health improvement research, and by focusing on children and young people we will quickly be able to support the establishment of policies and interventions to improve the health of future generations.
"It will be exciting to see academia, organisations and individuals from diverse backgrounds working together to improve and protect the health of the people of Wales."
The new cross-institutional Centre will receive up to £5M over five years towards new academic posts as well as research facilities and other infrastructure needed to support high quality research.
Professor Moore said: "Health inequalities and poor health generally are major problems in the UK which place increasing demands on the NHS. Yet much of this can be prevented if we can identify effective ways to improve health and well being and reduce health inequalities.
"The key to DECIPHer’s success will be to work in partnership with policy makers, practitioners and the public at all stages to ensure that the research carried out is relevant to their needs and has an impact on the health of the public. As well as making a mark on the UK Public Health Research landscape, the aim will be to make a lasting impact on the health of children and young people across Wales, the South West of England and internationally."
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