Health research agencies from six nations -- including from the United States, China and India -- announced Monday they were joining forces to battle chronic diseases that increasingly affect developing nations.
The agencies will focus on the world's most fatal non-communicable diseases: cardiovascular diseases -- mainly heart disease and stroke -- cancer, especially lung cancer, chronic respiratory conditions, and Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity.
"The health impact and socio-economic cost of these largely preventable diseases is enormous and rising, potentially derailing efforts at poverty reduction," the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases said in a statement.
The Alliance is being formed "to support clear priorities for a coordinated research effort that will address this growing health crisis, now reaching world epidemic proportions," the statement read.
Unless there is more on these illnesses, experts believe that 388 million people around the world "will die of one or more such diseases within the next decade."
"We know that chronic diseases are responsible for about 60 percent of death world-wide, and 80 percent of which are in low and middle income countries," said Elizabeth Nabel, who heads the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a branch of the NIH.
So the number of people affected by chronic diseases "is disproportionately affecting individuals in the developed world, low and middle income countries, many of them under the age of 70," Nabel told AFP.
The Alliance "is attempted to fund research and training that is focused on reducing the burden of chronic diseases in the developing world," she said.
A key goal is to train individuals "that would be able to be the health research and health care leaders in those countries," Nabel said.
The Alliance members are: the Australia National Health and Medical Research Council; the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences; the UK Medical Research Council; two branches of the US National Institutes of Health; and the New Delhi-based Indian Council of Medical Research.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has joined the Alliance as an observer.