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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- It is the biggest cause of death in major emerging/ high growth economies.
- It is closely associated with an established range of causal factors, including inactivity, smoking and diet.
- 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.