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New HIV/AIDS, mental health research funded

18 August 2005

New HIV/AIDS, mental health and health workforce research funded

Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) Chief Executive, Dr Bruce Scoggins, announced today an investment totaling over NZ$3.19 million (ex. GST) in three research projects under the International Collaborative Indigenous Health Research Partnership (ICIHRP).

The aims of the ICIHRP, a partnership between the HRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, are to recognise and address the disparity between the health of Indigenous peoples and the health of the general population.

Dr Scoggins says the HRC has a commitment to investing in research that will lead to improvements in the health of Maori and the health of indigenous people internationally.

“The projects will enable researchers to collaborate with each other and to work with indigenous communities to address critical health issues for indigenous peoples in the three countries,” he says.

The broad research theme under which these three projects are funded is Resilience. HRC Group Manager, Maori Health Research and Health Sector Relationships, Aroha Haggie, says the theme was chosen because it covers all spheres of the life cycle.

“The theme ‘Resilience’ is appropriate because it can be applied to identify intervention points at various stages of life and /or specific health issues,” she explains.

Surveys of sexually transmitted infections have found high rates in some Indigenous communities in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In a five-year study, Dr. Clive Aspin (University of Auckland) will collaborate with Dr. Neil Andersson (Community Information and Epidemiological Technologies Group, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, Canada), and Prof.

John Kaldor (University of New South Wales, Australia) to explore how indigenous people are able to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. The New Zealand component of this project receives HRC support of $1.47 million (ex. GST).

In another project, Dr. Pamela Bennett (University of Auckland), along with Dr. Lawrence Kirmayer (Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital affiliated with McGill University, Canada) will study the factors that promote resilience in mental health among Indigenous peoples across their lifespan, focusing on the response to risk factors in early childhood, school age children, adolescence and young adulthood. The New Zealand arm of this research won HRC investment of $0.9 million (ex. GST) over 3 years.

In Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the indigenous health workforce has established networks as part of broader attempts to address health disparities. The third project announced today to be undertaken by Dr Paul Robertson (University of Otago) and Dr Judith Bartlett (University of Manitoba, Canada) involves collaboration with indigenous health workforce members.

This study will describe the structures and roles of indigenous health networks and the optimum intersect between these networks during key work-life transitions. The HRC has invested $0.82 million (ex.GST) over 3 years in this project.

Key facts on the ICIHRP:

In 2002, the Health Research Council of New Zealand(HRC) , the Canadian Institutes of Health (CIHR) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) entered into a trilateral partnership to support research in the area of indigenous peoples' health with the goal of improving the health of indigenous peoples in these three countries.

The partners agree to promote multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional and multi-sectoral collaborations between the health research agencies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The projects announced today are the first to be funded from this partnership.


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