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WHO and the Kobe Group agree to a further 10-Year mandate for the WHO Centre for Health Development

The WHO Centre for Health Development established in Kobe, Japan in 1995 will reinforce its research activities in health and development in the second period of its operation from 2006-2016. Emphasis will be placed on its programmes to reduce health inequity for vulnerable populations in urban settings, as well as studying the impact of chronic diseases and trying to find better ways to deal with the impact of disasters and emergencies on people's mental health. Closer cooperation will be sought with local communities by strengthening the global and local interface.

After successfully concluding negotiations with the Hyogo Prefecture, the City of Kobe, the Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Kobe Steel, Ltd., the heads of the four parties comprising the Kobe Group, and the WHO Director-General, Dr LEE Jong-wook signed an Exchange of Letters in Kobe on 15 June 2005 to continue the operations of the WHO Kobe Centre for another 10 years. "The generosity of the Kobe Group to continue to support the work of WHO in meeting critical health research needs is gratefully acknowledged", Dr Lee said. "Our goal is to marshal scientific evidence as a lever for policy change – aiming toward practical uptake among policymakers and stakeholders in countries."

The process of transformation and transition between the Centre’s first 10 years and the future, begun in 2004, has continued in 2005 and laid the groundwork for the successful conclusion of the negotiations.

Over the next 10 years, the Centre will emphasize critical areas of health research, including a systems analysis of the role of health governance in determining health outcomes in selected urban settings, the measurement of non-communicable disease impacts, and the development of an urban health governance tool kit. Among other things, this kit will include tools for responding to mental health needs in and after disasters and emergencies; and for enhancing industry, community and academia alliances for health promotion.

"The Centre’s location offers special opportunities to draw on institutions in the Hyogo Prefecture and across Japan to reflect their particular experiences in managing the health challenges of rapidly ageing societies in an increasingly urbanized world" said its Director, Dr Wilfried Kreisel." "In this regard we will respond more to local concerns and needs by utilizing international knowledge and experience, and delineating local and national findings for global application."