Forging Partnerships for Effective Eradication of Non-Communicable Diseases at the 2nd Global NCD Alliance Forum

Sharjah is hosting the second global forum on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) from November 9-11 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah and his wife Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) and International Ambassador for the World Cancer Declaration of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC.

The three day event is being jointly held by FoCP and the NCD Alliance, and comes after the NCD Alliance appointed Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi as the Royal Patron of the Global NCD Alliance Forum, in September 2014, in recognition of her efforts and commitment to fight against cancer and non-communicable diseases locally, regionally and globally.

The second day of the forum included workshops streams under the title ‘Advocating for NCD Prevention and Control’ and its five workshops; Making a Case for Investment and Financing for NCD Prevention and Control; Improving NCD Access and Achieving Universal Health Coverage for All; Joining Forces to Tackle the Determinants of NCD; Promoting the Meaningful Involvement of People Living with NCDs and Driving National Planning on NCDs.

Under Stream 1: Advocating for NCD Prevention and Control, Friends of Cancer Society (FOCP) played a pivotal role in the presence of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) in conducting the first workshop Driving National Planning on 10 December and holding governments accountable for their commitments to NCD prevention and control. Driving the national plan for NCD has been the key focus with a holistic approach of the society to mitigate the burden of NCDs and propelling country-level action towards regional and global NCD targets. It discussed grounding a national NCD response in solid research and developing research capacity at the country-level. It also discussed the governance needed for an effective NCD response to explore national NCD planning, importance of target setting and share examples of fostering ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ involvement.

This workshop also saw major NCD organisations from all over the world and a large group of NCD experts and specialists, aiming to mobilise attention, identifying barriers and raising awareness in order to secure financial resources to support international efforts in the fight against non-communicable diseases.

While commenting on the importance of developing sustainable practices to contain NCDs, Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi, Director General, Friends of Cancer Patients, UAE said “Organisations need to focus on the sustainable goals of 2018 and how they can be achieved”. She further added these goals that run until 2030 sees its inception today by carving out a national plan on non-communicable diseases. We have to convince and push everyone to priorities and put forward policies and strategies against NCDs more decisively. She further added each country should have state and civil bodies that need to support and spread this message to as many people around the world as possible: To accomplish this mission the forum is dedicated to offering all civil society organizations a platform to unify their efforts in the fight against these contagious diseases.”

Promoting the efforts in this direction, Friends of Cancer patients (FOCP) is therefore paving the way to advocate for action and amplifying voices.

Among the activities at the second global NCD Alliance Forum 2017 included a key speaker Dr Alexander Lyon Senior Lecturer in Cardiology, Imperial College London and Consultant Cardiologist, Royal Brompton Hospital, United Kingdom who discussed the importance of scientific research and ways to develop the national plan to fight NCDs by exploring the role of innovative medicines to reduce mortality rates. He also emphasised on the need to learn best practices from across the world and to gain new knowledge on NCD prevention and control. He reaffirmed the NCD alliance’s commitment to put intentions into action. NCDs – mainly cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes – account for 68 per cent of global mortality or two out of every three deaths.”

The workshop also included a session by Dr. Buthaina Bin Belaila, Head of NCD Section, Ministry of Health & Prevention, United Arab Emirates  who said ”only concerted action on NCDs can lead to concrete results.”

She spoke about the alliance of the country’s state apparatuses like hospitals, media, quality services, transportation to join hands with the national committee to increase the number of survivors, to drive change and to generate awareness in the UAE as also in the world outside. In the end, she reiterated the need for all forces to tackle the determinants of NCDs.

Another speaker Dr. Ibtihal Fadhil, President, EMR NCD Alliance and Board Member, NCD Alliance, UAE who said: ”FOCP started their support with NCD in July 2017 and no sector alone can reverse the NCD epidemic, but working together to chart a new course towards health and sustainable human development for a more equitable and healthier future can bring smiles to the faces of people”. She said for this everyone needs to make valuable partnerships with both public and private industry in the UAE and the Middle East.

Running side by side the second workshop Improving NCD Access and Achieving Universal Health Coverage for All, saw speakers Professor David Wood, President, World Heart Federation and Garfield Weston Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom Ms. Helen McGuire, Programme Leader, Non-communicable Diseases, PATH, United States, Dr. James Pfitzer, Director, Access Accelerated, Switzerland, Dr. Andrew Twineamatsiko, Youth advocate, Caring & Living As Neighbour (CLAN) and Uganda NCD Alliance, Uganda, Ms. Amy Israel, Global Health Thought Leadership & Policy Director, Eli Lilly, Switzerland, Dr. Eva Njenga, Acting Chair, Kenya NCD Alliance, Kenya emphasized on making available affordable technologies and essential medicines for NCDs to around 80 per cent of the people worldwide.

In the third workshop Joining Forces to tackle the determinants of NCDs speakers Ms. Rebecca Perl, Vice President, Partnerships and Initiatives Policy, Advocacy, Communication, Vital Strategies, United States Dr. Kent Buse, Chief, Strategic Policy Directions, UNAIDS, Switzerland, Professor Jeff Collin, Global Public Health Unit, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Dr. Beatriz Champagne, President, CLAS and Executive Director, Inter American Heart Foundation, United States, Dr. Nandita Murukutla, Vice President, Global Policy and Research, Policy, Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies, India presented Practical tools and case studies from the front lines in Latin America – emerging trends and good practice and talked about food security and the dangers of obesity in fighting the disease.

The fourth workshop of the day Promoting the Meaningful Involvement of People Living With NCDs Dr. Cristina Parsons Perez, Ms. Rakiya Kilgori, Global Advisory Committee member, Our Views, Our Voices initiative, Nigeria, Ms. Abish Romero, National Advisor on Health Systems and Services, PAHO and Global Advisory Committee member, Our Views, Our Voices initiative, Mexico, Ms. Kate Swaffer, Chair, Dementia Alliance International and Global Advisory Committee member, Our Views, Our Voices initiative, Australia, Mr. Alex Silverstein, Lead for Collaboration, NHS and Global Advisory Committee member, Our Views, Our Voices initiative, NCD Alliance, United Kingdom, Ms. Louise Agersnap, Technical Officer, WHO Global Coordination Mechanism on Non-communicable Diseases (WHO GCM/NCD), World Health Organization, Switzerland Ms. Jessica Daly, Senior Portfolio Lead, Medtronic Philanthropy, United States, Mr. Juan Nuñez, Coordinator, Mexico Saludhable, Mexico talked about a more urgent response management team that would be more robust and accountable in handling these non- communicable diseases.

In the last workshop Making a Case for Investment and Financing for NCD Prevention and Control Dr. Rachel Nugent, Vice President, Global Non-communicable Diseases, RTI International, United States, Dr. Alexey Kulikov, External Relations Officer, UNIATF, Switzerland, NCD Investment cases, Mr. Labram Massawudu Musah, Programmes Director, Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), Ghana, Ms. Elizabeth Ohadi, Health Systems and Finance Specialist RTI International, United States, Dr. Ishu Kataria, Public Health Researcher, Non-communicable disease Team, RTI International and Global Coordinator, Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network (YP-CDN), India talked about the communicating effectively to different audiences particularly in the low-income group companies about the imminent dangers of this disease.

Founded in 2009, the NCD Alliance is a unique civil society network uniting 2,000 civil society organisations in more than 170 countries dedicated to improving NCD prevention and control worldwide. The Alliance aims to unify global efforts to reduce mortality caused by non-communicable diseases by 25% by 2025 and mobilise international support to implement NCDs as a health priority in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve these goals, the Alliance convened the NCD civil society community, provides thought leadership on global policy, sets priorities for the global NCD response, and mobilizes civil society action at national and regional levels.

The summit is in preparation to the September 2018 high level meeting at the United Nations where in all countries and governments will be summoned to report on how they have tackled NCDs in relation to the sustainable goals of the international body.