Generate stronger action to fight non-communicable diseases

Dr PS Sarma, CNS Correspondent, India
By endorsing Agenda 2030, governments around the world have committed to fight against NCDs which are responsible for nearly 70% of the premature deaths globally. One of the important targets of Agenda 2030 is to reduce these deaths by 33% by 2030, and all governments have to work towards achieving this goal. In a webinar organised by Citizen News Service (CNS), experts like Dr Ehsan Latif, Senior Advisor (NCDs), International Union Against TB and Lung Disease (The Union)   and Cristina Parsons Perez, Capacity Development Director, NCD Alliance  not only gave an overview of the present scenario of NCDs, but also detailed the corrective measures needed to stem the rising tide of these killer diseases.

Cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers, and  diabetes form the bulk of NCDs. While meetings at international level focus attention on generating result oriented actions against NCDs, the fight at the ground level is best with many challenges. Perez highlighted some of the major impediments as lack of strong political commitment, poor engagement with non health sectors, inadequate funding and commercial determinants of health. There is also a need for the whole society to be part of the process. Any discussions and any decision making around NCDs should involve people living with NCDs to be put right at the centre and heart of it. Civil society has a great role to play by holding decision makers to account and advocating for the cause, she said.

Regarding resources, Latif said that, “National plans determine the amount of resources that can be made available. So if a country has a clear cut plan for next 5-10 years, and they know how to reach funders, the latter would be very open to funding the programs. But countries will have to show in  their plan of how they propose to achieve the SDGs That clarity on ‘how to get there’ will get them the funding. Funding and resources is a two way street. Countries have to tell donors what they intend to do and what is their prioritization.”

There must be equal emphasis on prevention as well as early diagnosis and treatment of NCDs. Dr Rita Banik, another webinar panelist shared her motivating experience of how she overcame breast cancer. She stressed that early diagnosis and treatment plus a positive attitude can beat cancer. I personally know a few breast cancer patients who are living even after 10 years of cancer detection as they were diagnosed in early stages of the disease and were treated promptly.

I personally feel that a strong political commitment and sufficient funding  are very essential and that NGOs can play a significant role in our endeavour to control the non communicable diseases.

Dr PS Sarma, Citizen News Service - CNS
July 17, 2017