Photo: Eruoyn Veerapen
The participation of the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network (YPCDN) at the first WHO Global Dialogue on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) from October 19-21 in Mauritius has given our organization the right stage to reaffirm the values and ideals that underpin our mission. Indeed, from the very beginning, YPCDN has reframed the global NCD epidemic and its global response not only as a barrier to development, but also as a grave social injustice. This last point can be illustrated by the glaring disparities among countries’ and communities’ capacities to respond to it.
The Global Dialogue included representatives from Member States, UN organizations, NGOs, and academic institutions. It was unique in how it aimed to discuss a crucial component of the fight against NCDs: “how non-State actors can support governments in meeting their NCD-related commitments to implement the NCD Global Action Plan and the global targets on NCDs as part of realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” (WHO) This is crucial because the public sector by itself cannot tackle NCDs. Indeed, non-State actors are critical partners in supporting the implementation of government-led efforts to address NCDs. Given that their role can vary, the Global Dialogue provided an appropriate forum to discuss their roles more formally. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Dialogue’s Co-Chairs’ Statement endorsed various roles and avenues by which non-State actors could contribute.
As the YPCDN chapter coordinator in Burkina Faso, a developing country, it was critical for me during discussions at the Global Dialogue to very clearly communicate the concrete concepts pertaining to this dimension of inequalities in countries’ capacities to foster the prevention and control of NCDs. From sharing the context of my country’s ill-equipped national healthcare systems responses to NCDs, to giving examples based on my local initiatives to tackle NCDs, it meant a lot for me to bring this knowledge and experience to the discussion table—and, in the process, help inform global health policy.
Attending the global dialogue was also an auspicious platform for my own personal edification and professional development. This is because the complex nature of the social determinants of health linked to NCDs requires one to be constantly updated on the latest evidence that can to inform our advocacy and action work. Importantly, this is just what our global network stands for—namely, its efforts to increase exposure for all young people to these unique international opportunities so that they keep the global-local dynamics alive.
Collaboration, which is another essential pillar of our organizational culture, was at the core of the Global Dialogue with these new-born initiatives to build and strengthen an African network against NCDs. YPCDN representation in such coalitions is highly pertinent as we bring the expertise and experience of an established, vibrant community of dedicated young professionals and leaders in their respective communities across the African continent. As a community with an unprecedented energy and passion towards our mission, it is crucial that we also address our sustainability in our priorities as our main work is primarily grounded in volunteerism.
As the world is facing profound changes in national policies for international development that can have immense changes on global health financing, we call on donors to support our network whose role has now been recognized as crucial during the WHO Global Dialogue on NCDs. Indeed, as concluded in an independent report, the potential for cost-effective NCD investments should be strongly considered as funders weigh priorities in global health.
Through its Multiply Change campaign that we are currently running, YP-CDN is building off its successful initiative to train leaders in sub-Saharan Africa who can tackle NCDs and increase access to essential medicines. This work will go a long way towards improving the health of populations in low-income settings. We call on donors to support this initiative and to lend any support through this link here.