Rahoul Ahuja
MD Candidate at Medical University of South Carolina passionate about global health, tobacco control, and NCDs.

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THE PROBLEM: A Lack of Treatment for Non-communicable Diseases in Low-and Middle-income Countries

Many of us think heart disease or cancers strike only the well-off. Not true! In developing countries, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have overtaken infectious diseases (such as malaria) as the world’s leading killers. In developing countries, in 2013 alone, NCDs killed eight million people before their sixtieth birthdays. And often, NCDs are preventable and treatable!

Yet, the WHO reported availability of chemotherapy in only 32% of African countries, 60% of South East Asia, and 70% of countries in the Americas, compared to 90% in Europe. These gaps in access to cost-effective and potentially life-saving medications constitute a threat to the fundamental human right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. People are dying because the necessary treatments are too expensive, too scarce, or non-existent for those who need them.  

We want to change that. We want everyone suffering from an NCD – regardless of income or geographic location – to get the medicines they need. 

SOLUTION: Multiplying Change through the YP-CDN NextGen Leaders Program

The Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network (YP-CDN) is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes young leaders worldwide to take action against the current social conditions that contribute to making noncommunicable diseases the leading cause of death worldwide!

We believe the fastest, most effective way to make NCD medicines more affordable and more available is to train the next generation of leaders on how to change the policies and societal practices that prevent equal access to treatments. One policy change can positively impact the lives of thousands. However, changing a policy requires certain knowledge and skills.

That’s why, with help from dozens of experts who volunteered their time, we’ve designed a training program—called YP-CDN NextGen Leadersthat gives emerging leaders a toolkit for addressing a lack of access to affordable NCD treatment in low and middle-income countries. 

The training has been tested and proven to work. We have the toolkit, the trainers, and 30 talented young leaders in Kenya who are ready to combat NCDs and improve access to NCD medicines in their communities.

WHY NEXTGEN LEADERS?

Young people are a driving force for change.  By 2025, millennials, the demographic currently considered “young professionals,” will account for 75% of the global workforce. Studies show that millennials overwhelmingly want to make a difference in the world through their career choices and the organizations to which their commit their time. We believe that together we are stronger— our collaborations and outreach capacity know no geographic or disciplinary boundaries. Bridging across multiple disciplines and borders, we have begun to forge an unprecedented and powerful force for change. Because we believe that new solutions and approaches must be implemented to address the barriers that communities face in accessing affordable NCD treatment, our NextGen leaders will come from various professional backgrounds-- not just from the health field. As young professionals, we know how to adapt in an ever-changing world and have an urgent desire and passion to create a healthier and more equitable future. Leadership for tomorrow must start today.

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