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.”
-- African 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.
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.
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.