PIH prepares statement for the UN High Level Meeting on striving for a more inclusive agenda for NCDIs of poverty

Author: Maia Olsen, NCD Synergies
October 1, 2018

On Thursday September 27th, Dr. Gene Bukhman and Maia Olsen represented Partners In Health and Harvard Medical School at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, joining over 350 registered non-governmental stakeholders during the proceedings. PIH prepared a statement to be read by Dr. Bukhman, but was not selected to speak. The statement will be submitted to the UN directly.

Maia Olsen / Partners In Health
Dr. Sania Nishtar, a panelist in the Multistakeholder panels during the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs on Thursday September 27th made a statement, which included language on prioritizing the poorest billion as part of a UHC agenda grounded in human rights and equity. 

Text of the full statement below:

Chairperson and distinguished delegates –

Partners In Health, supported by the Program in Global NCDs and Social Change at Harvard Medical School, urges the global health community to expand the NCD, injury, and universal health coverage agendas to be more relevant and inclusive for the poorest people in the world who are largely children and young and adults living in rural sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Recalling the 2011 Boston Statement on the NCDs of the Poorest Billionthe Brazzaville Declaration, the 2013 NCD Synergies-Kigali 80 under 40 by 2020 NCDI equity targets, the 2015 WHO Dialogue on NCDs, Poverty, and Development, and the ongoing Lancet Commission on Reframing NCDs and Injuries for the Poorest Billion,

We call on member states and the UN to recognize that among the world’s poorest billion people:

  1. The four so-called major NCDs account for less than half of the NCD burden, and less than a quarter of the NCD burden among those under 40 years of age, who are 80 percent of the population.

  2. More than 70% of the NCD burden is unexplained by the lifestyle risk factors targeted by current global monitoring frameworks and that these risk factors account for less than 10% of the burden among those under the age of 40.

We call on member states and the UN to commit to:

  1. Support country-led priority-setting processes that include the voices of the poor and consider the full range of effective medical and surgical NCDI interventions, including those that address severe and neglected cardiovascular disease such as rheumatic and congenital heart disease, pediatric cancers, type 1 diabetes and other severe endocrine conditions, musculoskeletal disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, acute and chronic kidney diseases, severe gastrointestinal conditions, sickle cell disease, congenital conditions such as club foot and cleft lip and palate, blindness and deafness, severe skin conditions, neurological disorders and mental illness, as well physical injuries such as burns and drowning.

  2. Ensure that financing is not a barrier to the implementation of these interventions through integrated care teams delivering packages of related services at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels such as, for example, the “PEN-Plus” package for severe chronic NCDs at first-referral level hospitals.

  3. Expand global NCD control targets to include those under the age of 30 and consider mortality and suffering from the full range of NCDs and injuries.


UN Member States provided statements on country-led NCD progress in two sessions throughout the day. During the main plenary session, this included 23 statements from Heads of State and Government (significantly less than initially expected) and 55 statements from Ministries of Health. During the concurrently held multisectoral panel, selected speakers and high-level member state representatives from Ministries of Health spoke during the four hours of proceedings. Unfortunately, very little speaking slots were given to civil society actors due to time constraints, a frustrating development given significant rhetoric in the lead-up to the UN HLM around meaningfully including civil society and people living with NCDs in policy discussions.

Like many others across the NCD community, our team will be looking next to the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in September 2019 and the series of meetings and conferences that lead up to next year’s dialogue.