Stakeholders from over 53 countries gathered for the unveiling of the NCDI Poverty Network

Author: Lauren Brown
December 17, 2020

On Monday December 7, 2020, representatives of national NCDI Poverty Commissions in 15 low- and lower-middle-income countries formally launched the NCDI Poverty Network at a global virtual event titled, “NCDI Poverty Network Launch: Bridging a Gap in Universal Health Coverage for the Poorest Billion.” Additionally, 7 new countries joined the Network and announced that they would establish national commissions beginning in 2021, resulting in a combined total of 23 countries in the Network.

The event highlighted the work and ongoing efforts of the national commissions and underlined the primary goal of the NCDI Poverty Network – which is to build and expand a community of stakeholders focused on preventing the death and suffering of people doubly afflicted by NCDs and extreme poverty. Three strategic initiatives of the Network include:

  1. Catalyzing the development of service delivery models through Integration Science
  2. Accelerating implementation of PEN-Plus services for chronic severe NCDs such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatic and congenital Heart disease, and sickle disease
  3. Building a social movement to finance care and social protection for people living with these conditions

Following the September 2020 publication of the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission report publication, a draft charter for the NCDI Poverty Network was posted for public comment. The intent of the Network is to support the ongoing efforts of national commissions to implement the recommendations of the Lancet Commission. The NCDI Poverty Network will support countries through a four-stage process, ultimately leading to national implementation of priority integrated delivery models.

The event had two parts, a plenary session and four regional breakout discussions. Speakers included the Lancet Commission co-chairs and members of national Commissions from Nepal, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Liberia, Malawi, Haiti, and Chhattisgarh, India. Additionally, the event included speakers from the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) and Africa Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC). Representatives from new National NCDI Poverty Commissions were also in attendance and the breakout discussion sessions featured perspectives from people living with NCDIs.

More than 330 people from organizations in over 53 countries participated in the plenary event, and more than 160 took part in one of four regional breakout discussion sessions for East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa & the Caribbean, and South and Southeast Asia.

In the plenary, participants heard from:

  • Dr. Ana Mocumbi co-chair of the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission (Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Instituto Nacional de Saúde, Maputo, Mozambique): opened the plenary presentations with key findings and recommendations from the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission for national-level stakeholders
  • Dr. Neil Gupta (Harvard Medical School, Partners In Health, Brigham & Women’s Hospital): highlighted successes of the National NCDI Poverty Commissions to date and announced new NCDI Poverty Commissions joining the Network in 2021, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, DRC, Ghana, and Nigeria.
  • Dr. Mary Nyamongo (Kenya NCDI Poverty Commission) and Dr. Biraj Karmacharya (Nepal NCDI Poverty Commission): highlighted progress, structure, and findings of their respective commissions.
  • Dr. Gene Bukhman co-chair of the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission(Harvard Medical School, Partners In Health, Brigham & Women’s Hospital): presented content of the NCDI Poverty Network charter, discussing a four phase priority setting including advocacy, research, and implementation that will lead to national scale-up models for integrated delivery of priority interventions.
  • Dr. Prebo Barango (WHO AFRO Inter-Country Support Team for East & Southern Africa): promoted the integration of priority NCDI interventions through WHO PEN and PEN-Plus strategies and discussed shared challenges regarding NCDs in the African region, including lack of access to essential care for NCDs, healthcare workforce, referrals, and monitoring and evaluation systems.
  • Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz (Africa CDC): spoke on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and double vulnerability of NCDIs and poverty.

Dr. Emmanuel Mensah at Harvard Medical School served as master of ceremonies for the event. Dr. Julie Makani, a global Lancet NCDI Poverty Commissioner and Professor of Hematology at Muhimbili University of Health & Allied Sciences, moderated the National NCDI Poverty Commission roundtable.

Following this presentation, participants had the opportunity to join one of four regional breakout discussions, facilitated by leadership from National Commissions across Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mozambique, Malawi, India, and Afghanistan. Participants were encouraged to share ideas and insights on issues related to NCDIs for those living in extreme poverty in their respective countries and how the NCDI Poverty Network can accelerate progress for this population. Participants also heard perspectives from advocates speaking to their lived experiences as people living with NCDs, including Ms. Lea Kilenga with the Africa Sickle Cell Organization in Kenya, Mr. Chikhu Ngombe with Cancer Survivors Quest in Malawi, as well as patient and provider advocates from Haiti and India.