The SEARCH collaboration

January 2013 to ongoing

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About the project

In January 2013, Swiss Re and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health created SEARCH – the Systematic Explanatory Analyses of Risk factors affecting Cardiovascular Health – to better understand the relationship between risk factors and health outcomes. As the world’s second largest reinsurer, Swiss Re seeks more accurate projections of global morbidity and mortality. The Harvard Chan School seeks to better understand the most important determinants of health and to improve health status globally.

SEARCH was sponsored by Swiss Re Group Underwriting, the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue, the Swiss Re Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

It fostered significant collaboration with other institutions including the World Health Organization, the Lown Institute and the Public Health Foundation of India.

The initial focus of SEARCH was on the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke. The collaboration focused on four countries: Brazil and Mexico in Latin America, and China and India in Asia. These four countries are flagships for rapid development and rapid evolution of a variety of risk factors that will determine morbidity, mortality and longevity. Eleven postdoctoral fellows were awarded grants to conduct research based on existing data sets/cohorts. Each fellow had a mentor at the Harvard Chan School and Swiss Re.

Activities

Health risk factors China

Cardiovascular health risk factors in India

India is becoming more prosperous. Urbanisation and changing lifestyles have created rapid shifts in human behaviour and health profiles, most notably a shift from infectious to non-communicable diseases, and one of them is cardiovascular disease. It has been the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in India in recent years, challenging current public health provisions and insurance funding models.

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Health risk factors China

Cardiovascular health risk factors in China and the implications for insurance

China is becoming more prosperous. Urbanisation and changing lifestyles have created rapid shifts in human behaviour and health profiles, most notably a shift from infectious to non-communicable diseases, and one of them is cardiovascular disease. It has been the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in China in recent years, challenging current public health provisions and insurance funding models.

Related links:

See event page

Research activity

Expert Forum on health risk factors in Brazil

Brazil is facing a pandemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These are challenging current public health provisions and insurance funding models. Understanding the drivers behind this epidemic is vitally important. The Expert Forum will introduce the SEARCH collaboration, providing expert articles on latest changes in health risk factors in Brazil. The Expert Forum will feature presentations by two of the authors who analysed the most important risk factors leading to cardiovascular disease, along with risk transfer tools that aim to protect health insurance policy holders against such occurrences.

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SEARCH collaboration activity

Expert Forum on health risk factors in rapidly changing economies

Regions undergoing rapid economic development are experiencing a pandemic of non-communicable diseases, both metabolic and cardiovascular. These are challenging public health provisions and insurance funding models. The two-year SEARCH collaboration between Swiss Re and the Harvard School of Public Health, which was set up to investigate the risk factors driving the epidemic, focused on the situations in Brazil, China, India and Mexico. Marking the launch of the Risk Dialogue Series lead publication on the subject, the Expert Forum featured presentations by two of the authors on air pollution in China and nutrition transition in India.

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The SEARCH collaboration

SEARCH Activity Report 2013-2014

Harvard and Swiss Re have a history of collaboration that goes back more than a decade, leading to a conviction that their goals and strategy overlap and are synergistic. Swiss Re and Harvard were able to work together on topics of great interest and relevance to reinsurance, public health, and to public policy in Brazil, Mexico, India and China. These four countries are flagships for rapid development and rapid evolution of a variety of risk factors that will determine morbidity, mortality and longevity.

Related links:

See publication

SEARCH collaboration activity

The future of human longevity: Cardiovascular health, longer lives

One of the key themes of Swiss Re's 150-year anniversary was a better shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities of funding longer lives. The longevity conference provided a forum for leading thinking over multi-disciplinary models of future mortality and morbidity, and explored how we can promote healthy ageing.

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SEARCH collaboration activity

Impact of cardiovascular risk factors on healthy lifespan and mortality in Brazil and Mexico

Cardiovascular disease and stroke have become the number one causes of death in the strategically important markets of Brazil and Mexico. But what do we know behind these headline figures? What efforts are being made to improve cardiovascular mortality outcomes and how can public health contribute? What factors are inhibiting the development of healthier hearts? How will these questions affect overall mortality in the two countries? The conference complemented a joint research collaboration currently being undertaken by Swiss Re and the Harvard School of Public Health. The study is entitled Systematic Explanatory Analyses of Risk Factors affecting Cardiovascular Health (SEARCH). The findings of the study will explore the potential for better health outcomes, and how current disease trends might affect future mortality.

Related links:

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Publications

Risk Dialogue Series: Health Risk Factors China

Risk Dialogue Series: 关于中国健康危险因素之

在新兴市场中,中国的国民健康状况变化尤其迅速,以至于慢性非传染性疾病发病率 更类似于发达国家的情况。其原因主要归结于人口快速老年化,高比例的抽烟人群空气 质量堪忧的大型城市,以及快速城镇化。中国政府的一项主要举措是致力于建立一个 有效的公共和私营医疗服务系统,以及应对疾病或死亡的社会保障体系。我们相信私 营保险公司是提供有效医疗保健的重要伙伴,也希望这些“SEARCH”研究项目的文 章能作为此伙伴关系的具体体现之一。

Year: 2015

Risk Dialogue Series: Fatores de Risco à Saúde no Brasil

Risk Dialogue Series: Fatores de Risco à Saúde no Brasil

O Brasil é um país vasto. Apesar dos esforços extensivos das autoridades de saúde pública, ele ainda sofre com focos de doenças infecciosas graves. Ao mesmo tempo, é atormentado pelo aumento de DCNTs, uma situação agravada pelo nvelhecimento da população. Tal como acontece com outros mercados emergentes, o Brasil tem uma classe média crescente.

Year: 2015

The future of human longevity: cardiovascular health, longer lives

The future of human longevity: cardiovascular health, longer lives

The astonishing increase in longevity occurring throughout the world has accelerated in recent decades. As a result, the percentage of elderly people within the population has risen dramatically in many countries. The challenges and opportunities of funding longer lives, particularly in populous nations such as China and India, were key themes during a three-day conference held from 10 to 12 November at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue

Year: 2014

SEARCH Overview and stakeholders

SEARCH Overview and stakeholders

In January 2013, Swiss Re and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) created SEARCH – Systematic Explanatory Analyses of Risk factors affecting Cardiovascular Health – to better understand the relationship between risk factors and health outcomes. As the world’s second largest reinsurer, Swiss Re seeks more accurate projections of global morbidity and mortality. HSPH seeks to better understand the most important determinants of health and to improve health status globally.

Year: 2013

FAQ

The SEARCH collaboration is a joint undertaking between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Swiss Re with the goal to get better data on heart disease in Brazil, China, India and Mexico. Learn about the objectives and background of the project.

What goals did the collaboration have?

The objective was to gather reliable data on cardiovascular disease risk factors and management in Brazil, China, India, and Mexico. We analysed this data in the context of requirements for healthy longevity. The study addressed medical risk factors, prevention and treatment practices, lifestyle choices and public health policy. SEARCH complements the WHO Global Burden of Disease study with a focus on non-communicable diseases. Specific subject areas addressed include:

  • Risk factors such as smoking, air pollution, diet, diabetes, obesity and hypertension, and physical inactivity
  • Disease treatment and prevention practices for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome

The project sought to understand and predict the future impact of cardiovascular disease on the well-being and longevity of humans in high growth economies. How do government policies affect risk factors? How do risk factors such as smoking, pollution, diet, obesity, and hypertension affect outcomes? Finally, as we better understand risk factors and health outcomes, how does that shape health policy?

Swiss Re seeks to better understand future longevity drivers and model them into Swiss Re’s current and future business strategies. Changes in mortality will have a significant influence on in-force and future life insurance business. The Harvard Chan School would like to better understand public health challenges in different countries, and to make recommendations aimed at improving mortality outcomes.

Why are Swiss Re and the Harvard Chan School so interested in emerging economies?

  1. Emerging/ high growth markets are fast expanding and rapidly growing their middle class. There is a concurrent growth in many markets in demand for life and health insurance policies.
  2. As economies become more prosperous, there are rapid shifts in their human behavior and health profiles, most notably a shift from infectious to non-communicable diseases.
  3. Emerging/ high growth markets frequently lack the depth and sophistication of data currently found in many industrial economies.

Why was the focus on cardiovascular disease?

  1. It is the biggest cause of death in major emerging/ high growth economies.
  2. It is closely associated with an established range of causal factors, including inactivity, smoking and diet.
  3. Altering causal factors for cardiovascular disease will have a significant effect on mortality. Factors include smoking bans, urban and housing designs that encourage physical activity, and emergency responses to coronary events.

Presentations

SEARCH - The search for health risk factors in Brazil, China, India and Mexico
Christoph Nabholz, Head Business Development, Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue



Health risk factor time trends and risk prevention

Daniel Ryan, Head R&D - Life&Health and Big Data, Swiss Re


Health risk air pollution
Doug Dockery, Professor of Environmental Epidemiology; Chair, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health



Nutrition transition - Dietary behaviours and consequences in India

Shilpa Bupathiraju, Research Fellow, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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