WHO and Hunter researchers join forces

May 21 2019

Professor John Wiggers

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will collaborate with Newcastle health researchers to drive the global efforts fighting non-communicable diseases, including cancers, diabetes, respiratory diseases, heart disease and mental health.

The University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour (PRCHB) has been designated a WHO Collaborating Centre, to assist the specialised agency of the United Nations to implement its mandated work across the globe.

It joins a special network of more than 800 WHO collaborating centres worldwide, working with WHO on areas such as nursing, occupational health, communicable diseases, nutrition, mental health, chronic diseases and health technologies.

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky, AO, said the awarding of WHO Collaborating Centre status acknowledged the leading expertise within the PRC for Health Behaviour and its value in supporting the global organisation achieve its objectives.

“The World Health Organisation’s core function is to direct and coordinate international health work through collaboration. Choosing to partner with the University of Newcastle is a great compliment and fitting recognition of the quality of work being undertaken on a daily basis by our researchers,” Professor Zelinsky said.

“I look forward to seeing how our researchers can support the World Health Organisation to positively impact the health of people around the world.”

Director of the Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour, Professor John Wiggers, said the applied research undertaken by the PRCHB, in partnership with the Hunter New England Local Health District, Hunter Medical Research Institute and other partners, had contributed to the enhancement of health service delivery policies and practices at the local, state, national and international levels.

“At the international level, this has most recently involved working with WHO on several tobacco-focused projects, assessing tobacco trends and the effects of tobacco on mortality from various health conditions,” Professor Wiggers said.

“Based on this collaboration and the leading research efforts of the group WHO wants more of the expertise of the PRCHB.

“With increased focus on the health problems caused by non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, respiratory diseases and mental health, our centre can support WHO by generating evidence-based and health system relevant research and developing that knowledge into high class and effective interventions,” Professor Wiggers said.

“We are proud to partner with the World Health Organisation and to be contributing to knowledge that is not only benefiting Australians but people in communities all around the world.”

The functions of WHO collaborating centres include:

  • Collection, collation and dissemination of information
  • Standardisation of terminology and jargon, of technology, of diagnostic, therapeutic and prophylactic substances, and of methods and procedures
  • Development and application of appropriate technology
  • Provision of reference substances and other services
  • Participation in collaborative research developed under the organisation's leadership, including the planning, conduct, monitoring and evaluation of research, as well as promotion of the application of the results of research
  • Training including research training
  • The coordination of activities carried out by several institutions on a given subject

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.