PETRA: Prevention of Disease Using Trade Agreements

Lead Research Organisation: University of Chester
Department Name: Faculty of Health and Social Care

Abstract

PETRA will be a unique UK expert and user research and development network. It will examine the evidence on the links between trade and health in respect of the prevention of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). It will look at how international trade can improve human health and prevent avoidable harm.

It will achieve this by reviewing the existing knowledge on trade and health. PETRA will develop research on the trade measures and policies that will have the highest impact on promoting health and reducing harms, especially where these are caused by trade in unhealthy foods, alcohol and tobacco. This will be achieved through bringing together trade experts with the academic disciplines of public health, economics, environmental sciences (sustainable development/prosperity), public policy and law. The Network will be guided by views from key policy people in the civil service and third sector as well as innovations and learning from other countries and other areas of linked public benefit.

The benefits of PETRA will be in addressing a major gap in NCD prevention research. Trade policies and systems have the potential to reduce avoidable harms and make significant improvements to human health. PETRA aims to ensure that there is a solid base of applied research and development to inform public policy and funded research priorities.

The beneficiaries and benefits of PETRA will be:

General public: by achieving progressive improvements in the public's health especially for future generations. PETRA will seek to improve public understanding of:
the impact of trade on human health and the environment,
the wider impacts on current and future generations, and
the public policy solutions that will improve the public's health.

UK Government policy makers: in trade, environment, public health, transport, agriculture, food etc. They will be better informed about the underpinning research and development on the links between trade and health and on practical policy solutions that can be incorporated within trade policy and trade and investment agreements.

Charities and professional groups: PETRA will work with respected and evidence-based advocacy groups. The benefits to them will be research informed advocacy for progressive social and environmentally beneficial trade policies and trade and investment agreements.

Other countries: there will also be potential benefits for other countries. Trade is governed by reciprocal agreements which should contain common standards.

Academics in trade, public health, law, environmental sciences, public policy and economics: the potential benefits to academia will be:
being linked into a dedicated community of interest,
potential interdisciplinary research collaborations,
ability to achieve research impact, research ideas and innovations, and
professional development opportunities.

Research funders: will have a clear case for short and longer term research priorities for high impact NCD prevention trade measures.

Public health professionals: - PETRA aims to increase interest, involvement and literacy in the public health community in health and trade. There is potential to incorporate learning from PETRA's discussions in training and development events and curricula.

Due to the long term nature of trade and investment agreements, PETRA will aim to become a self sustaining and interlinked research and development community on the trade and health aspects of the prevention of NCDs. By developing research collaborations PETRA will aim to persuade research funders of the need to fund high impact trade and health research. PETRA will become a national expert resource and seek to establish interdisciplinary centres of academic excellence on trade and health. There will be a demand for this expert capacity as the UK needs to develop trade policy and trade and investment agreements rapidly over at least the next decade.

Technical Summary

1. An initial literature search showed a lack of evidence on the links between trade and investment agreements and the prevention of NCDs, especially relating to unhealthy commodities.
2. PETRA will be an interdisciplinary community of interest on trade and health that develops a research agenda by building national and international links among:
academia (trade, law, public health, economics, public policy, environmental sciences, sustainable development)
the third sector
Government
Research funders.
3. Kingdon's policy windows theory will underpin PETRA. This uses the opportunities for change created by bringing policy actors and researchers together to take advantage of political circumstances. The model of change is shown in the figure below.

4. PETRA will involve the above academic disciplines, civil servants, and the third sector. The core network will stem from the UK Public Health Network that comprises UK state and third sector NCD prevention alliances.
5. Policy and practice will be influenced through scientific meetings, an ideas lab, further literature reviews (depending on funding), developing research collaborations, and a communications strategy to reach members and key audiences, including the public.
6. While new public health and trade advocacy groups focus on immediate political challenges of Brexit, PETRA's design makes it a unique and timely expert resource that will become a Centre of Excellence and Action for NCD prevention and trade R&D in the UK.
7. PETRA's added value will create sustainability by:
tackling a major gap in prevention research
timeliness in building capacity to negotiate trade agreements with health in mind.
being a unique UK expert resource with a diverse range of disciplines and civil society users
using existing links and developing new mechanisms of high level national engagement by state and civil society
tackling a major determinant of NCDs at population scale.

This grant is funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) which is administered by the Medical Research Council on behalf of the UKPRP's 12 funding partners: British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Economic and Social Research Council; Health and Social Care Research and Development Division, Welsh Government; Health and Social Care Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland; Medical Research Council; Natural Environment Research Council; National Institute for Health Research; The Health Foundation; The Wellcome Trust.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries of PETRA will be:

UK Government policy makers - in trade, environment, public health, transport, agriculture, food etc. This will be achieved by being better informed about 1)the underpinning research and development on the links between trade and health and 2)the practical policy solutions that can be incorporated within TIAs, trade systems and policy. This will be both short and longer term and include horizon scanning perspectives. PETRA will be able to inform the civil service, hence ministers and advisers, on policy developments and options with the necessary public, professional and civil society support to ensure sustainability of the Network.

Third sector and professional groups - these include the respected and evidence based advocacy groups such as the UK Health Forum, Faculty of Public Health, Royal Society for Public Health, Association of Directors of Public Health and the UK Public Health Network, along with international NGOs. Benefits for this group will be in:
policy research informed advocacy,
contributing to the high impact research and development agenda and
advocacy for progressive social and environmental policy change through more collaborative and co-ordinated action
This will be achieve in conjunction with academia and Government users and increased literacy about trade and NCD prevention.

General public - through the realisation of progressive improvements in the public's health especially for future generations. PETRA has the potential to improve public literacy on the impact of trade on human health and the environment and the wider impacts on current and future generations. Public support is a vital part of securing policy change to ensure that health is considered and incorporated in trade policy and TIAs.

Public health practitioners - PETRA will aim to increase interest, involvement and literacy across the public health community in health and trade with the potential to incorporate the learning in training and development events and curricula.

Other countries -there will also be potential benefits for other countries as TIAs are reciprocal agreements which should contain common standards, opportunities and benefits.

Academics in trade, public health, law, environmental sciences, public policy and economics - the potential benefits to academia will be in the link to a dedicated community of interest, potential interdisciplinary research collaborations, the ability to achieve research impact, research ideas and innovations and professional development opportunities - in essence a self-sustaining and interlinked research community that draws on the perspectives of key research users. See also the academics beneficiaries section for further explanations.

Research funders - will have a clear sense of short and longer term high impact NCD prevention in trade research priorities that is supported by a strategic prioritisation process and informed by key users who can translate this applied research into trade policy and systems change.

Publications

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