Centre Director Professor Peter Sly
Centre Director Professor Peter Sly
29 November 2013

The University of Queensland will launch its first World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre today with a WHO flag-raising ceremony.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has appointed the Children’s Health and Environment Program delivered by the Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute at UQ as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Children’s Health and the Environment.

Centre Director Professor Peter Sly, an international leader in Children’s Environmental Health, said the Centre formed part of an international collaborative network dedicated to making a difference to public health globally.

“The WHO recognition is a great accolade to Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute staff and collaborators who have been actively working at building collaborations and delivering training courses in children’s environmental health over the past four years,” Professor Sly said. 

“The Centre’s focus is on children’s health, particularly in the areas of early life exposures to environmental toxicants.

“We have projects running to look at the effects of exposures to common chemicals encountered in every day life and how they increase the risks for chronic disease in later life.

“We concentrate on collaborative research and ways to educate and raise awareness about prevention of environmental exposures and environmentally-related diseases in children.”

The major contributors to the burden of disease for Australian children come from mental disorders (23%), respiratory diseases, mainly asthma (18%) and neonatal conditions (16%).

The increasing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes are also of major concern.

These are all disorders recognised to have a major environmental contribution, but the contribution that the environment makes to childhood disease in Australia has not been reported.

“The WHO Collaborating Centre for Children’s Health and Environment will enable us to continue the crucial research required to prevent these diseases, with the opportunity to collaborate with around 150 centres and laboratories worldwide,” Professor Sly said.

The Centre brings together researchers from Children's Health and Environment Program in collaborations with groups from UQ with recognised expertise in population health and environmental health, such as the School of Population Health, the Centre for Burden of Disease and Cost-Effectiveness and the National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology.

Faculty of Health Sciences Executive Dean Professor Nicholas Fisk said the designation reflected the high quality of research conducted by UQ health researchers.

“It demonstrates that QCMRI staff and collaborators are showing international leadership in the area of children’s health and provides a key opportunity to shape international policy,” Professor Fisk said.

Photo/Filming Opportunity:

Date: Friday, 29/11/13 

Time: 12.15pm

Where: Royal Children’s Hospital front lawn, Herston Road, Herston

Event: There will be a an official WHO flag-raising ceremony to mark the designation of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Children’s Health and Environment based at the Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute at The University of Queensland.

Interviews: WHO Collaborating Centre Director Professor Peter Sly will be available for interviews.

Media Contact: Faculty of Health Sciences Media and Communications Officer Kirsten O'Leary, 07 3346 4713, 0412 307 594 or kirsten.oleary@uq.edu.au.