Jawaher Al Qasimi Concludes 2nd Global NCD Alliance Forum with First ‘Sharjah Awards in Excellence in Non-communicable Diseases’

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Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Patron of the Global Non-communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance, Founder and Patron of Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), International Ambassador for the World Cancer Declaration of the Union for International Cancer Control and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer, has concluded the second edition of the Global NCDA Forum by acknowledging some of the NCD organisations who have contributed most to their causes.

The first Global NCD Alliance Forum in Sharjah in 2015, produced the ‘Sharjah Declaration’, a commitment to accelerate action by advocating for change, increasing accountability and monitoring progress. Since then, NCD civil societies have been actively working to fulfil those commitments in the ‘Sharjah Declaration’ and results have been collated in the ‘NCD Civil Society Atlas’ which was launched earlier today.

The Sharjah Awards in Excellence in Non-communicable Diseases are presented to the NCD alliances with initiatives featured in the Atlas, which documents 38 case studies and programmes collected from national and regional NCD alliances around the world. The categories are awareness, accountability, advocacy and access.

In announcing the winners, Her Highness said: “I would like to commend the initiatives and innovative campaigns that receive these awards, but also recognise the inspirational efforts of all those who seek to reduce the incidence of NCDs across the world. For every civil society that contributes to the NCD community, there is extra hope and more resources. And every individual helping hand is the starting place for a new group of people to ultimately make a national, regional and global impact.”

The winner in the category of ‘Awareness’ was the Tanzanian NCD Alliance for its initiative ‘Creating a Journalists’ Forum to Raise Awareness on NCDs’. Recipient of the ‘Accountability’ award was The East African NCD Alliance (EANCDA) for its initiative ‘Benchmarking to Track and Advance Regional NCD Action’. ‘Advocacy’ winner was the Healthy Latin American Coalition (CLAS) for their initiative ‘Rapid Regional Response to Strengthen and Defend National NCD Policies in Latin America’ and the award winner in the category ‘Access’ was the Healthy Caribbean Coalition for its initiative ‘Building Civil Society Capacity to Improve Access to Cancer Services for Underserved Populations’.

Having held the highly successful inaugural edition and influenced global agendas on NCDs in 2015, this year Sharjah-based Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) welcomed more than 350 delegates and 80 expert speakers including scientists, medical pioneers, support groups, NGOs and civil societies from 68 countries across five continents such as Kenya, Mexico, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Brazil, Jordon, India, Zanzibar and many others.

Chairperson of the Friends of Cancer Patients Board of Directors, HE Sawsan Jafar, commented on the progress made from the inaugural NCD Alliance Forum: “Thanks to the joint efforts of the NCD Alliance and Friends of Cancer Patients, and all those agencies working together to combat the devastating effects of non-communicable diseases, the impact of these efforts and the strength of the message is making a greater impression each day. To build on that we must not only renew our resolve, we must also ensure we pool our resources and action our findings.

“This year’s Global NCD Alliance Forum, themed ‘Stepping up the Pace on NCDs: Making 2018 Count’, has been inspirational in terms of the goals that lie ahead of us as well as the achievements made. I would like to thank each and every speaker, expert and contributor that has made this such a significant gathering and look forward to the results such an immensely positive event will yield.

“I would like to express our deep appreciation and sincere thanks to His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi Ruler of Sharjah and to Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi for hosting the Forum in Sharjah and for their inspiring commitment and support.”

Mr José Luis Castro, President, NCD Alliance, also showed his appreciation to Sheikha Jawaher: “I must thank you once again and also His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, for having made all we have accomplished in these past three days possible. Here in Sharjah, we took critical steps as a civil society movement to identify our priorities that put people at the centre of our work.

“Important resources have been shared, including ideas for advocacy campaign priorities for the 2018 High-Level Meeting on NCDs, the Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs, and the Civil Society Atlas, which highlights the tremendous impact of alliances. All of these demonstrate the critical role civil society organisations are playing around the world in the NCD response.

“It is my sincere hope that you will all be actively engaged and involved in advocacy for the 2018 High-Level Meeting, as civil society must be a part of the process in order to drive an ambitious outcome that brings us closer to achieving our global NCD and health goals.”

In his closing remarks, Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus, PAHO and Board Member of NCD Alliance told the delegates that he was  delighted to see so much positivity: “The energy in the discussions, sessions and workshops was hugely impressive as was the enthusiasm to live up to this year’s theme of making 2018 count for NCDs.  I have also been impressed by the people here with NCDs, whose voices are like violins in the symphony of the millions suffering with NCDs.

“I was delighted to hear the innovative concepts that have a place in our cause and I was mesmerized by optimism from everyone. I would hope that we leave here with many messages, inspired by the voices and visions we have heard. But I would ask you to also leave hear with passion; I would like you to leave here indignant, incensed and with a feeling of moral outrage that too many people have to unnecessarily suffer and die and that it is up to us to try to stop it.”

Before the conclusion of the event, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher was presented with a plaque of appreciation for her ongoing patronage and support of the NCD Alliance.

Her Highness thanked the Alliance and added that Sharjah was increasing its ongoing commitment to healthier city: “Sharjah has a society which always puts people first and it is a priority for us to live as a healthy city. This is a community that understands the importance of well-being and the need to care for all people of all ages from all backgrounds. We will shortly be announcing that Sharjah will also be a healthy city for older people, providing mobile clinics so that they do not have travel in order to seek medical help or attention and we will also be providing free medication for the over-60s. We continue to learn a lot from the alliance and continue to make it our mission to provide a healthy environment.”

The NCD Alliance has chosen Sharjah to host the first two editions of the event, where the most respected NCD health experts from around the world strategise on how reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases – responsible for more than 40 million deaths globally each year.

Some of the most respected experts in the field of NCDs speaking at the event included: HRH Princess Dina Mired, President-Elect of the Union for International Cancer Control, who is the first Arab and non-medical professional to have been elected in such a prestigious global post; Sir George Alleyne, a medical graduate of the University of the West Indies who worked under Professor John Waterlow in the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit at UWI; Katie Dain, Chief Executive Officer of the NCD Alliance, who has been a part of the team since its founding in 2009; Dr. Tom Frieden, one of the world’s leading public health experts and President and Chief Executive Officer of ‘Resolve to Save Lives’, a $225 million, 5-year initiative housed at Vital Strategies; and Dr. Sania Nishtar, a Pakistani physician and former federal minister of the Government of Pakistan who has strong civil society credentials as founder of Heartfile. Dr. Nishtar is also co-Chair of WHO High-Level Global Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases.