‘Sharjah Declaration on Global NCDs for Children and Youth Forum’ Poised to Drive Concerted Global Action

The first Global Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) for Children and Youth forum in Sharjah has concluded with Friends Of Cancer Patient (FOCP)’s announcement of the Sharjah Declaration on Global NCDs for Children and Youth Forum, in the presence of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Royal Patron of FOCP.

In a congratulatory note to the attendees of the forum, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi emphasised the importance of the event in accelerating Sharjah’s efforts to find solutions for the rising incidences of NCDs in children and youth. Her Highness said that Sharjah is developing itself as a future stronghold where everybody around the world will find the best treatment for their children suffering from non-communicable diseases.

The two-day forum brought together over 200 delegates including medical professionals, government and private entities, community health workers and members of the public, and 20 international experts in over ten sessions dedicated to promoting the profile of children and youth within the NCD discourse.

The Sharjah global declaration had laid out seven key pillars, adopted by the forum’s participants to  strengthen collaborative action and commitment in their respective countries. The declaration will be disseminated to various government entities and ministries for effective legislative changes and have a positive impact on policy decisions.

The declaration thus stipulates the following:

  • Recognising the deep, lasting impact of NCDs on family health and wellbeing.
  • Acknowledging positive change, that starts with care for families and communities, then extends to the health centres.
  • Recognising young leaders as essential partners for NCDs prevention and control and ensuring their participation in global NCD advocacy and policy campaigns, consultations, and coalitions.
  • Innovate and promote proven, evidence-based developments, to address all NCDs including childhood cancer, palliative care and pain relief, and vaccines capable of preventing cancer.
  • Commit to the life course approach to NCDs, and organise life-long primary care for NCDs through Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
  • Actively addressing family health literacy, to improve understanding about NCDs prevention and control, with consideration of the cultural and social context.
  • Empower all, including young people affected by NCDs, to share their health stories and lived experiences, to strengthen advocacy and to guide stakeholders who seek to make lasting improvements in family health and wellbeing.

Making NCD prevention and control in children a global health priority

To implement the Sharjah Declaration on Global NCDs for Children and Youth Forum, FOCP has pledged to work collaboratively to extend palliative care and vaccination for Childhood NCD among young people and vulnerable groups. It seeks to empower individuals and communities via health literacy, education and social mobilisation programmes.

Her Excellency Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, FOCP, said, “It was a marvellous two days of presentations, participation, deliberations, and information exchange. We’ve all felt a wonderful sense of cohesion towards the common goals of the forum, laid out in the 7-point declaration.

“What a brilliant summation this declaration is, lucidly setting out action follow-ups for us all to act upon. Thank you all for your contribution and for making our alliance even stronger and our determination to achieve our common goals even more determined. I look forward to our future engagements and on reflecting on our collective achievements on implementing the 7-point declaration. I would also like to send a very special thank you to her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi for being the patron of the two-day forum and for her personal dedication and support and gracious presence during these two days.”

Positive change begins in families

Stressing on the importance of the worldwide adoption of this declaration, Dr Mychelle Farmer Chair – NCD child said, “We thank Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, and FOCP as a whole, for this wonderful opportunity. This is the result of our work together; we have to share with you and the others the Sharjah declaration which has emerged from this global forum.”

She further said, “Our declaration will focus on family health and well-being to recognise the deep and dark impact it leaves on families. We acknowledge positive change that begins from families, that is carried through to the communities, young leaders, who are recognised as essential partners for NCDs’, prevention, control and management. They are all essential partners in global advocacy for NCDs in all aspects. We support innovation and evidenced based developments to include childhood cancers, palliative care and pain relief and vaccines capable of preventing cancer. We advocate for universal health coverage committed to NCDs, help literacy as a priority to actively address family needs around NCDs, that will enhance understanding. Finally, to empower all as advocates, including, young people affected by NCDs, to share their experiences to guide key stakeholders”.

A forum to highlight the big numbers – children and youth should not be neglected

The first-of-its-kind in the region event came at a time when non-communicable are the second highest perpetrators of premature deaths and disability in the UAE (IHME, 2017). NCDs are especially important for young people, now and in the future. Thus, the two-day forum examined the effects of non-medical factors on the prevalence of NCDs among children, with a focus on the family’s role in NCD prevention and control, and in embracing healthy habits for protecting their children from lifestyle-related illnesses.

It has highlighted the urgent need to rally global attention to combat non-communicable, empower children and their families and inspire them to become champions in the fight against NCDs, saying this is imperative if the Sustainable Development Goal 3, “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”, was to be successfully achieved by 2030. Within Goal 3, four targets are directly related to NCDs.