First International Stakeholder Meeting INTREC

“Strengthening research and policy on social determinants of health in low and middle income countries in Asia and Africa.”
19-21 March, 2013 – Accra, Ghana

Conference Programme Committee:

Dr Joke Haafkens, University of Amsterdam; Dr Martin Bangha, INDEPTH, Ghana; Dr Raman Preet, Umeå University, Sweden; Dr Heribert Ramroth, Heidelberg University; Germany; Dr Anna Mirny, Harvard University, USA; Prof. Dr Laksono Trisnantoro, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. Local Organization Committee: INDEPTH, Ghana (Dr Martin Bangha, Mrs. Beatrice Yeboah, Mr. Peter Asiedu, Ms. Berlinda Azanu, Mr. Francis Ameni)

Background information on INTREC

The WHO’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health argued in 2008 that the dramatic differences in health status that exist between and within countries are intimately linked with degrees of social disadvantage. These differences are unjust and avoidable, and, according to WHO, it is the responsibility of governments, researchers, and civil society to work to reduce them. Part of this work requires the production of setting-specific, timely, and relevant evidence on the relationship between social determinants of health and health outcomes, and yet this information is limited, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Therefore, WHO emphasized the strong need for the development capacity-building activities to enable research on social determinants (SDH) of health in LMIC’s. The INTREC (INDEPTH Training and Research Centres of Excellence) project started in 2012 with this concern in mind. Its dual aims include:

  • 1 Providing SDH- related training for INDEPTH researchers from Africa and Asia, thereby allowing the production of evidence on associations between SDH and health outcomes;
  • 2 Enabling the sharing of this information by facilitating links between researchers and decision makers, and by ensuring that research findings are presented to decision makers in an actionable, policy- relevant manner.

The INTREC consortium consists of six institutions. The one around which most of the work revolves is INDEPTH – the International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. With its secretariat in Accra, Ghana, INDEPTH is an expanding global network, currently with 44 Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems (HDSSs) from 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Oceania. Each HDSS conducts longitudinal health and demographic evaluation of rural and/or urban populations. INDEPTH aims to strengthen the capacity of HDSSs, and to mount multi-site research to guide health priorities and policies in LMICs, based on up-to-date evidence. The other five members of the INTREC consortium are all universities, which bring their own respective technical expertise to particular components of the work. These universities are Umeå University in Sweden; Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia; Heidelberg University in Germany; the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands; and Harvard University in the USA.

The work of INTREC will build on the pre-existing INDEPTH network, and is primarily focused on seven countries. In Africa, these include Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa; and in Asia, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh are taking part. Starting in 2013, each continent will be served respectively by regional training centres in Ghana and Indonesia. These centres will act as focal points for research and training on SDH for the INTREC countries and, in due course, other low- and middle-income countries.

INTREC is supported by a grant from the European Commission’s FP7 Health Program.
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