Media release, 26 October 2020

Contact: Heron Holloway, +65 9088 1967, heron.holloway@defeat-ncd.org

MYANMAR AND RWANDA LEAD EFFORTS TO REDUCE PREMATURE DEATHS FROM NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES

Addressing non-communicable diseases reduces COVID-19 deaths

Berlin, Germany – Today, at the World Health Summit, health ministers from Myanmar and Rwanda will present national strategies and costed action plans to reduce deaths from non-communicable diseases. These strategies and action plans detail how the two countries are fulfilling their commitment to achieving global Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030.

“Some countries are currently on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, to significantly reduce premature mortality for both men and women from non-communicable diseases by 2030. I am convinced that the Rwanda strategic plan for the next five years would allow us to make a big step forward,” said Dr. Ngamije, Minister of Health, Rwanda. “More than 70 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths are due to non-communicable diseases. People infected with SARS COV-2 are likely to be severely affected or die if they already have an underlying non-communicable disease.”

“The interrelationship between COVID-19 and non-communicable diseases is dangerous. Lockdowns have disrupted patient care. People surviving COVID-19, but with non-communicable diseases, could become more complicated to treat in the future,” said Dr. Myint Htwe, Union Minister of Health and Sports, Myanmar. “More than two-thirds of premature deaths in Myanmar are due to non-communicable diseases. Successful execution of this strategy will reduce mortality from non-communicable diseases and limit COVID-19 deaths.”

Rwanda’s strategic plan is focused on a five-year period from 2020 to 2025, and will directly benefit 4.8 million people. Based on a detailed costed action plan, USD699.1 million is needed to achieve its goals. Myanmar has completed a similar exercise and aims to support 11 million people in 2021 and 2022. An investment of USD101 million is now being sought to reach this goal.

Ministers Ngamije and Htwe will present their national plans, and how they aim to raise the required financing, in a session at the World Health Summit. Other speakers at the ‘Access to sustainable non-communicable disease treatment and care’ session are:

  • Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission
  • Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health, Gambia
  • Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, Director, Department of Non-Communicable Diseases, World Health Organization
  • Hubertus Von Baumbach, Chair, Board of Managing Directors, Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Mukul Bhola, Chief Executive Officer, The Defeat-NCD Partnership, The United Nations Institute for Training and Research

“The presentations by Myanmar and Rwanda at the World Health Summit are a major milestone in progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030,” said Mukul Bhola, CEO, The Defeat-NCD Partnership. “Their leadership in presenting costed action plans is a first among low- and middle-income countries. We are working together to forge partnerships with international development banks, private sector companies, health entrepreneurs and civil society organisations to jointly implement these plans. We are also calling upon these partners, alongside philanthropic foundations and trusts, to help finance the identified gaps to turn plans into practical reality.”

Fifteen million people die prematurely every year from non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer.

Taking part in a question-and-answer session at the event are the following speakers:

  • Dr. Timothy Sylvester Harris, Prime Minister, Saint Kitts and Nevis; Lead Head for Health and Human Development in the Caribbean; Chair, High Level Council, The Defeat-NCD Partnership
  • Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Bhutan
  • Dr. Juan Carlos Zevallos, Minister of Health, Ecuador
  • Tine Mørch Smith, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN and other International Organisations in Geneva, Permanent Mission of Norway
  • Dr. Virginija Dambrauskaite, Policy Officer at the Health Sector, European Commission, International Cooperation and Development, B4.Education, Health, Culture
  • Francesco Rocca, President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • Dr. Svetlana Akselrod, Director, Global NCD Platform, World Health Organization
  • Olga Sclovscaia, Regional Head in Europe and Central Asia, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, World Bank Group
  • Srividya Jagannathan, Global Lead – Lifesciences, International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group
  • Sonalini Khetrapal, Health Specialist, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, Asian Development Bank
  • Dr. Ammar Abdo Ahmed, Lead Global Health Specialist, Islamic Development Bank Group
  • Christoph Loch, Director, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon
  • Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India
  • Menassie Taddese, Regional President, Emerging Markets, Pfizer
  • Amalia Adler-Waxman, Vice President, Global Head, Environment, Social and Governance, Teva
  • Gina Agiostratidou, Programme Director, Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Type 1 Diabetes Programme

Media advisory, 21 October 2020

To arrange interviews with any of the panellists or speakers, contact: Heron Holloway, +65 9088 1967, heron.holloway@defeat-ncd.org

GLOBAL EXPERTS JOIN HIGH-LEVEL SESSION TO TACKLE NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES AT WORLD HEALTH SUMMIT

Addressing non-communicable diseases reduces COVID-19 deaths

Berlin, Germany – Only fifteen countries are currently on track to fulfil the global commitment to reduce premature deaths by one-third for both men and women by 2030, according to data from the World Health Organization. Fifteen million lives could be saved through screening, diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases. A high-level session at the World Health Summit, focused on tackling non-communicable diseases, seeks to mobilise global action to enable 90 low- and middle-income countries to achieve this same goal.

Health ministers from Myanmar and Rwanda will present national strategies and costed action plans to reduce deaths from non-communicable diseases. They will be joined by global experts from governments, multilateral institutions, development banks, humanitarian organisations, academia, philanthropic foundations and private companies. 

Dr. Daniel Ngamije, Minister of Health, Rwanda, and Dr. Myint Htwe, Union Minister of Health and Sports, Myanmar, will present plans that demonstrate their respective national commitments to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.4: to reduce global premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030. The two ministers will also detail how they aim to raise the required financing.

Other panellists at the ‘Access to sustainable non-communicable disease treatment and care’ session are:

  • Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission
  • Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health, Gambia
  • Bente Mikkelsen, Director, Department of Non-Communicable Diseases, World Health Organization
  • Hubertus Von Baumbach, Chair, Board of Managing Directors, Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Mukul Bhola, Chief Executive Officer, The Defeat-NCD Partnership, The United Nations Institute for Training and Research

Taking part in a question-and-answer session at the event are the following speakers:

  • Timothy Sylvester Harris, Prime Minister, Saint Kitts and Nevis; Lead Head for Health and Human Development in the Caribbean; Chair High Level Council, The Defeat-NCD Partnership
  • Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Bhutan
  • Juan Carlos Zevallos, Minister of Health, Ecuador
  • Tine Mørch Smith, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN and other International Organisations in Geneva, Permanent Mission of Norway
  • Virginija Dambrauskaite, Policy Officer at the Health Sector, European Commission, International Cooperation and Development, B4.Education, Health, Culture
  • Francesco Rocca, President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • Svetlana Axelrod, Director, Global NCD Platform, World Health Organization
  • Olga Sclovscaia, Regional Head in Europe and Central Asia, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, World Bank Group
  • Srividya Jagannathan, Global Lead – Lifesciences, International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group
  • Sonalini Khetrapal, Health Specialist, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, Asian Development Bank
  • Ammar Abdo Ahmed, Lead Global Health Specialist, Islamic Development Bank Group
  • Christoph Loch, Director, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon
  • Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India
  • Menassie Taddese, Regional President, Emerging Markets, Pfizer
  • Amalia Adler-Waxman, Vice President, Global Head, Environment, Social and Governance, Teva
  • Gina Agiostratidou, Programme Director, Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Type 1 Diabetes Programme

‘Access to sustainable non-communicable disease treatment and care’ session details: 26 October 2020, 9-10.30am Central European Time

Due to COVID-19, the World Health Summit 2020 is an online event. Register to join the session here: https://whs-defeat-ncd-panel-2020.eventbrite.com

Type 1 Diabetes – Worth a Shot

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Today is my “diaversary”. This May 13th marks the 28th year that I have been poked, prodded, and injected a dozen times or more per day since I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 13 years old.  It is the one day each year that I reflect honestly on what it means to be diabetic. I won’t lie—that usually involves a few tears.

But this year, my first at The Defeat-NCD Partnership, that brief moment of self-pity is gone. Three decades is a long time to live with a chronic illness, but it is a luxury that my fellow type 1s in low-resource countries do not have.

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Leveraging new technologies to fight NCDs

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Around the world, rapid demographic, sociocultural, and economic transitions have driven a surge in non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Increased affluence has been a double-edged sword, bringing people up out of poverty while predisposing them to NCDs like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung diseases, and cancers. Rates of these illnesses are skyrocketing, with a staggering 71 percent of global deaths due to NCDs.

There is no magic bullet to solving the challenge of NCDs — but expanding affordable access to healthcare by investing in technology is a crucial first step. By developing and rolling out the use of digital tools, The Defeat-NCD Partnership is bringing innovative technology to each of our four key pillars — national capacity building, scaling up community health, access to affordable essential medicines and supplies, and financing.

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New reports: South Africans now most likely to die from NCDs

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Over the last ten years, South Africa has seen the number of people with NCDs increase to the point where the numbers are higher then those suffering from communicable diseases.

Today, South Africans have a 51.9 per cent chance of dying from an NCD – diabetes, heart diseases and stroke being the most likely culprits – according to the NCD Countdown 2030. South Africa is also the country with the highest obesity rate in Sub-Saharan Africa, with two-thirds of women and one-third of men overweight or obese. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that 25 per cent of children in the country are undernourished.

Diet has at least something to do with this increase in NCD rates in South Africa. The average South African is eating the caloric equivalent of an extra candy bar a day, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). South Africans spent more money on fast food and coffee in 2018 than in in 2017, according to Stats SA, and already in 2017 there were about 50 fast food chain brands with 5,800 brand outlets across the country. Ninety per cent of South Africans lived within five kilometres of at least one fast food outlet, and families visited these outlets an average of twice a week in the higher income bracket and once a month in the lower income bracket.

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NCD care among transient populations: one size does not fit all

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From what little research does exist, we can see that the Roma seem to suffer from increased morbidity from NCDs and that they have poorer access to health services and uptake of preventative care. In one study that took place in Ghent, Belgium, researchers found that the Roma population had a number of barriers to care such as financial constraints, mobility issues and not knowing the language. They also have a lack of trust in care providers, which tends to make attempts to get care emergency-only situations.

While it is true that nomadic pastoralists and other mobile groups such as migratory workers and refugees live beyond the reach of established healthcare programmes that serve sedentary communities, groups like the Roma do tend to tread the same ground from year-to-year. Healthcare facilities should therefore not be difficult for them to get to. For other nomadic peoples, using methods from epidemiology, geographic information systems, and anthropology, solutions can be devised to improve service provision to these difficult to reach populations – as has been done in East Africa. There, it was found that Nomadic populations living within a general area can be made more open to modern health care once the barriers are lessened.

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An NCD case study from Iran

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Over the last decade obesity in Iran has risen from 14.2 per cent in 2005 to nearly 65 per cent in 2018. At the same time more than 55 per cent of the population were physically inactive, doing less than 150 minutes of physical activity through the week. This meant that 45 per cent of men and 65 per cent of women in Iran did less than two and a half hours of exercise per week.

In Iran, 20 per cent of children have inadequate physical activity because there isn’t proper education and cities in the country are not built for outdoor activity, said Afshin Ostovar, the Health Ministry’s director for non-communicable diseases in the Tehran Times. Earlier in the year, Maryam Hazrati, the deputy health minister for nursing, mentioned that 82 per cent of premature deaths in Iran can be linked to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This is in line with the worldwide average according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Though the facts are bleak, coordination, policymaking, planning, national programmes and commitment to reduce the effect of NCDs can be turned around.

 

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The security implications of NCDs

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Since 2014, the United States has been looking at health and healthcare as a security issue. The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) is a partnership of 64 nations and other stakeholders to help build countries’ capacity to help create a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and elevate global health security as a national and global priority. GHSA was set up at the beginning of the 2014 Ebola crisis but can be looked at through the prism of NCDs.

The reality is that some NCDs like diabetes and CVDs can lead to an impaired immune function. This makes the fight against infectious diseases much more difficult and because the double burden tends to take place in low- and middle-income countries, they are often accompanied by unhealthy exposures and environments. Experts, institutions and policies need to start supporting the prevention and control of these two overarching disease categories. Patients with NCDs have an increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. This means that the infrastructure that needs to be developed to support one burden could very well support both.

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