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#GivingTuesday is Less Than a Week Away!

Dear YP-CDN members,

As we near the holiday season, I am so excited to announce that this year, YP-CDN will be participating in #GivingTuesday. This tradition celebrates the spirit of generosity and kicks off the season of giving. Beginning Tuesday, December 1 at 12AM, our network will have 24 hours to show our collective support for the movement to improve access to NCD treatment around the world. Help us reach our goal of raising $17,500 before the end of the year by starting the giving season with a donation to #MultiplyChange. Leading into #GivingTuesday, here are 3 ways you can support the movement:

  1. For those of us starting the giving season early with Black Friday deals, make sure you make your online purchases through AmazonSmile. Simply visit smile.amazon.com, select the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network as your charity of choice, and begin shopping. Amazon will donate a portion of the price for each qualifying item you purchase to YP-CDN at no extra cost to you!
  2. Last week we announced the official launch of our #MultiplyChange campaign to raise funds for our Kenya NextGen Leaders Program. I am so humbled and warmed by all the positive feedback we have received for the campaign. If you want to #MultiplyChange with us but haven't yet set up your fundraising page, there's still time! Simply click here to get started.
  3. Not ready to make a fundraising page? You can still support the campaign! Click here to make a donation to the campaign, or support one of your fellow YPers in reaching their fundraising goal. 

So mark your calendars for December 1 and help us show a unified front to #MultiplyChange and increase access to medicines worldwide. 

In solidarity,

Jordan Jarvis
Executive Director, YP-CDN

Features from the Blog

  • Chris Odok: My Vision for YP-CDN in Kenya
  • Rahoul Ahuja: Improving Access to Insulin Worldwide
  • Mellany Murgor: Only Together Can We Grow the Global Non-communicable disease Movement- A Summary from the First NCD Alliance Global Forum
Chris Odok: My Vision for YP-CDN in Kenya


I’ll admit, a few years ago I wouldn’t have described myself as being passionate about NCDs. I had always looked at diseases afflicting Sub-Saharan Africa as health challenges that were unique to our region, and that we were dealing with issues different from the rest of the world.

My eye opening experience occurred when my dear grandmother succumbed to cancer. Shortly thereafter I also lost my uncle to cancer.

These losses made me look more closely at health problems faced by those in my community, and I was shocked at what I found out. I had almost ten relatives in my  nuclear and extended family who were either suffering from or had succumbed to a non-communicable disease -- far more than those affected by communicable diseases. 

I was appalled to realize that I knew so little about these diseases. Now, I am a medical student and am fairly certain that if I were not in my medical training, I would still have little to no knowledge on the conditions affecting so many people around me.

We are facing great challenges in Kenya. Disease patterns clearly point to NCDs as a growing problem, but people are either entirely unaware of these diseases, or unaware of the devastating impacts they are already having on our health, economy and society.

As a medical trainee, I strongly believe that I have two for two key responsibilities to promote change. The first is to build awareness within my community, and the second is to work with my government, as well as hold them accountable, to develop and realize policies that promote health and will bring better healthcare to those living with NCDs.

 

What do I hope to accomplish with YP-CDN?

With YP-CDN, I want to work to begin improving access to treatment and I hope to be a voice affecting policy change in my country.

Right now, I am troubled by the fact that most people cannot get the medicines they need for cancer and other NCDs. In order to achieve change, I believe we must broaden our knowledge base on NCDs in Kenya. More knowledge will likely have a ripple effect to increase the number of people who are screened and where disease is detected in time for treatment to be most effective.

Kenya is diversifying, modernizing and globalizing on numerous fronts and health cannot be left behind. I ,therefore, feel that we have an unprecedented opportunity to build a health system that is strong and can deliver the care that citizens require. And we can seize this opportunity by working with like-minded young minds from around the world and share fresh ideas on toppling our common foe: NCDs.

 

My Vision for YP-CDN

YP-CDN is full of the most highly energetic and committed people that I have ever had a chance to meet. It is set to go places. In the next few years, YP-CDN will be the biggest non-communicable disease group taking impactful action globally and a leading social justice voice for health. As the 3T (local chapter) leader in Nairobi, I am ready to play a big part in making that happen.

 

My Vision for the Nairobi 3T and NCDs in Kenya

NCDs will have an equal place at the policy table in Kenya alongside other health concerns, and therefore, Kenyans affected by NCDs will have government support in overcoming their challenges, just as those living with other health problems do.

Rahoul Ahuja: Improving Access to Insulin Worldwide


This past year, I remember visiting one of my friends in the UK who is a diabetic. For her in the UK, insulin costs nothing. But for an estimated 50 million people worldwide, insulin is nearly impossible to access or afford. Many of them end up dying, and many of these deaths could be prevented.

Even for those who can initially afford it, insulin drives many families into poverty. In some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the death of a diabetic child can sometimes be a relief to families who spent much of their available income on insulin to keep their child alive. In Mali, for instance, families can end up spending nearly 25% of their income on insulin, meaning they have less money to spend on food and education.

The lack of insulin access—as well as coverage of it by national health systems—is one of the biggest problems facing diabetics worldwide, and it must be recognized. In our society, a person’s wealth—or lack of it—should not determine whether they are able to live or not.

100 million diabetics require insulin every year (all type 1 diabetics, which number 17.4 million, and 30% of type 2 diabetics).

In type 1 diabetics, their body produces no insulin, meaning they would die without it. Not surprisingly, the most common cause of death in a child with  type 1 diabetes is a lack of insulin. For type 2 diabetics, the lack of insulin leads to a state of consistently high blood sugar, increasing their risk of kidney failure, blindness, and amputation.

Insulin is listed as one of the WHO’s essential medicines, but nearly half of those who require it are not able to afford or access it. This leads to completely preventable deaths that put strains on national healthcare systems and create immense economic losses.

For anyone with diabetes requiring insulin, access to it should be a right, not a privilege.

Research on insulin access worldwide demonstrates that various factors such as distribution problems and poor purchasing practices can dramatically impact the price of insulin compared to many other drugs. Developing innovative supply models for delivering insulin, as well as devising policies that reduce impediments to insulin access, are key to ensuring diabetics can receive the often-life-saving medication.

Diabetes care is expensive, and countries oftentimes face difficult choices between funding it and other important causes of mortality such as infectious diseases. Yet some countries manage to provide their citizens with insulin at either zero or nominal cost. In some countries, insulin is free for children who need it.

Governments worldwide can take many steps to improve access to insulin, such as abolishing all taxes on insulin, subsidizing insulin, and eventually providing it free of charge to all citizens, particularly children. While it may be carry large costs, governments can actually end up saving money not only by improving the well-being of a large segment of their population, but also by preventing expensive and life-threatening complications from a lack of insulin—complications that increase healthcare costs for all members of the healthcare system. Manufacturers of insulin can also take steps to improve access, such as by providing it at a discounted price to certain countries and populations.

There exist a myriad of examples of innovative programs that provide insulin to populations that normally have reduced access. Taking steps to scale up these programs, as well as encouraging governments to improve access and funding of insulin, will go a long way to ensuring that diabetics worldwide can access a drug that they might otherwise die without.

We as a society must avoid a situation where rich people with diabetes receive better quality and resources of healthcare while those who are poor don’t. With encouragement and support, we can help improve access to insulin for millions of people that struggle daily to receive a sustainable amount of this life-saving medication.

Mellany Murgor: Only Together Can We Grow the Global Non-communicable disease Movement- A Summary from the First NCD Alliance Global Forum

 

 “If you want to walk fast, walk alone, if you want to walk further, walk together.”   

-- A
frican Proverb

 

Some of the international youth and patient delegates present during the Global NCD Alliance Forum
 

As a young advocate, I had the privilege of attending the first ever global forum on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as a YP-CDN delegate in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

The NCD alliance together with Friends of Cancer Patients and its partners convened the meeting. This coming soon after the UN declaration and adoption of the Sustainable development goals which saw the inclusion of non-communicable diseases. It was an invite only event attracting over 45 different nationalities representing NCD alliances, global health experts, patient advocates, international NGOs, youth champions, government representatives, NCD alliance steering group and supporters. Of note is the forum will go in record as a meeting which had 10% of its participants being youth representatives from all over the world.

 

Sharjah Hospitality:

 A day prior to the main forum, the delegates were treated to the real Sharjah experience. A rich Sharjah heritage at the museum, calligraphy, perfume design, henna painting for the women, and entertainment by the locals, and an inaugural gala dinner. All these depicting the hospitality and kindness of the Sharjah people.

This was just the lighter part of the three day forum which was officially opened by the His Royal Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi.
 

Plenary and Workshops: 

The next two days were more intense with changes in between plenary sessions and several workshops. The plenary sessions had great leaders from all over the world sharing various experiences and providing general feedback and commentary on the workshops held at each point. Overall, the call for partnerships and working together to ensure enhanced accountability resonated widely.

I must say, the workshops were dynamic and informative— they formed great basis to move discussions forward to achieve the WHO 25x25 goal.

For some world regions, remarkable steps were reported, and others were slow but a start was there. The eagerness to learn, share information and discuss was fantastic. The challenge was then posed to each individual to make sure the talk translated to action.   
                                                                                                     

The Coffee Connect:

Coffee Connect was a unique way of networking with different country and regional NCD Alliances. Individuals as well as regional and national alliances were able to share experiences and discussion on how to drive greater impact.

This was in line with one of the workshop themes on twinning and creating south-south and south-north collaborations.
 

The youth and patient advocates:

This group was well represented at this great forum— and many were YP-CDN members! They came from different parts of the world all for a common cause, to be counted in the fight against non-communicable diseases. It is always encouraging to see young people taking the initiative among themselves. It was evident in their faces that the enthusiasm, young an energetic spirit was going to last.

 It was echoed all throughout the meeting the importance of their involvement and participation. This considering the fact that it’s the current youth who will celebrate the achievements or amend the failures when it comes to taking stock in future.

 

Sharjah Declaration:

The civil society organizations made a declaration towards the 2030 goal by accelerating action and accountability for non-communicable diseases. 

A commitment by the NCD alliances and its partners was to work together in the fight against NCDs globally. It was generally adopted that the media, national governments, policy makers, the business community, United Nations system and other multilateral organizations were key in this process.

 

YPers Bid to #MultiplyChange:

A few members of the Young Professional Chronic Disease Network were present during the forum. As advocates for non-communicable diseases we were able to network with different alliances, getting more insights on their experiences with access to medicines, both nationally and regionally. What really stood out at the forum is the need to have more grassroots advocates to speak up and join the growing global movement, particularly the need for stronger representation of people living with and at risk for NCDs.  The patient voices at the forum clearly emphasized a need for more advocacy on access to affordable treatment for those already living with NCDs. 

We left the meeting more energized in our campaign to have more young leaders involved and to #MultiplyChange in advocating for lasting policy solutions to address non-communicable diseases. 
 

After 48 hours, the first ever forum was officially closed in a ceremony graced by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bintMohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Founder and Patron of  Friends of Cancer patients, International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC

Shukraan to the Friends of Cancer patients and the NCD Alliance, together with its partners, for facilitating and enabling this great meeting to happen. 

 

The End

 النهاية