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Washington, DC Advocacy Groups Commend National Governments for Committing to Reduce the Noncommunicable Disease Burden Worldwide

New York, NY (September 27, 2018) – Global Health Council (GHC) and the Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Roundtable, welcomes today’s High-Level Meeting (HLM) on NCDs and commends governments for reaffirming their commitments to reducing the burdens of NCDs, including the long overdue commitment to address mental health, and the recognition that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Ultimately, the value of this meeting will be demonstrated by the actions governments, donors, and civil society take to accelerate implementation.

“The burden of NCDs in low- and middle-income countries is growing, and it is critical that we stand with people living with NCDs to ensure they have access to necessary services and support,” stated Loyce Pace, Global Health Council President and Executive Director. “This convening offers an opportunity for countries to reaffirm their commitment to prevent and control NCDs, with a particular focus on affected communities with limited resources.”

GHC and the NCD Roundtable call for an emphasis on expanding coverage, to ensure that all people–including the poorest and most marginalized–benefit from prevention and are able to seek treatment and care. This will require greater multisectoral collaboration across public and private entities, as well as looking at other sectors, including technology and finance, to realize solutions. There must be clear targets and strong financial commitments to reach those implementation goals, requiring transparency and accountability from all stakeholders. This is not just a matter of principle; it is necessary to ensure sustainable economic development, as indirect and direct costs related to NCDs cripple productivity and threaten economies at all income levels.[i]

“This meeting is important because it will provide an opportunity for senior U.S. officials to join other leaders from around the world in recommitting to reducing the global burden of NCDs, which takes a toll on public health, on families and communities, and on economies,” stated Aaron Emmel, NCD Roundtable Co-Chair and Manager of Global Health Advocacy Initiatives at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In addition to adopting the commitments stated in the Political Declaration, we urge governments to continue to work towards:

1.) Concrete global and national targets with mechanisms for accountability. Targets and action steps should be aligned as closely as possible with those emerging from the HLM on Tuberculosis, which took place on September 26. We believe there is still more work to do in this regard.

2.) Meaningful civil society engagement. We strongly support OP16 in the Political Declaration and believe governments, civil society (including patient and family advocacy groups, nonprofit organizations, academia, health professional associations, and faith-based organizations), and for-profit companies all have a stake in reducing the burden of NCDs.

3.) Adoption of a life-course approach. The support for a life-course approach is significant and must be supported in programs and funding. Although there are no age restrictions in the UN Sustainable Development Agenda’s target for NCDs, the World Health Organization’s attention to premature deaths from NCDs focuses solely on the 30-70 age range. This excludes millions of children, adolescents and young people who live with or are affected by NCDs, and many die prematurely or suffer long-term disabilities as a result. We will not be able to meet our global commitments, or sustain them, until this is corrected.

“Just as importantly, this is a call to action—to build up our health systems and turn those commitments into practical, sustained work on the ground that reaches the people who have been left out for so long,” said Emmel. “What’s significant about this meeting is that governments are agreeing to new approaches: to tackling mental health, to recognizing the importance of access to prevention and health services starting with children and across people’s lives, to listening to patients and making them partners in care, and to paying attention to the role of our environments on health. These insights all require a new way of working, and there’s a way for every sector of society to be involved, including with adequate budgets and strong political will from our governments.”

Addressing and incorporating these priorities are critical to reducing the number of NCD-related deaths and achieving universal health coverage, especially in low- and middle-income countries. GHC and the NCD Roundtable look forward to working together in continued collaboration with public and private entities to help people lead healthier, longer lives and reduce the toll NCDs take on our global economy.

[i] Council on Foreign Relations. The Emerging Global Health Crisis: Noncommunicable Diseases in Low-and Middle-Income Countries. New York: Council on Foreign Relations. 2014. Page 38.


About the NCD Roundtable

The NCD Roundtable is a diverse coalition of over 60 organizations, including NGOs representing development and humanitarian settings, professional associations, academic institutions and companies, united to raise awareness and address the rising incidence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the developing world. Learn more at

About Global Health Council
Established in 1972, Global Health Council (GHC) is the leading membership organization supporting and connecting advocates, implementers, and stakeholders around global health priorities worldwide. GHC represents the collaborative voice of the community on key issues; we convene stakeholders around key priorities and actively engage with decision-makers to influence global health policy. Learn more at


Ten Asks: Doing Things Differently in Gender Equality and Global Health

This guest post was written by Dr. Roopa Dhatt, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Women in Global Health and Kelly Thompson, Gender and Programming Director, Mehr Manzoor, Research Director, and Ann Keeling, Senior Fellow, Women in Global Health. The post was originally published on their website.

Reflections for the 73rd United Nations General Assembly and UN High-Level Meetings.

‘Good health is essential for sustained economic and social development and for poverty reduction. This requires universal health coverage, underpinned by a strong health system..’ – UN Secretary General August 2018 [1]

The 73rd UN General Assembly, which opened this week, represents a significant moment for the global health community.  For the first time in the history of the UNGA there are not one, but two UN High Level Meetings on health.  As momentum builds on addressing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Tuberculosis (TB) – it is important to also look at the foundation that will support the achievement of the SDG 3 Health and Wellbeing targets, including Universal Health Coverage (UHC). If the WHO is able to achieve its Triple Billion Goal [2] – one billion more people benefiting from UHC, one billion more people better protected from health emergencies, and one billion more people enjoying better health and wellbeing –  #HealthforAll could be realized by 2030.

Global Health: Doing Things Differently

21st century global health challenges, however, require us to do things differently. The World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that 40 million new jobs in global health and social care must be created by 2030 to meet rising demand. [3] 18 million new health and social care jobs are needed in low income countries alone, where the burden of disease is greatest and health worker shortages most severe, to meet SDG and UHC targets.2  There is a lead time for creation of such skilled jobs and in some low income countries the pipeline of youth, particularly girls, finishing secondary school is insufficient to feed into the tertiary training needed. We can harness IT, robotics, e-health, new medicines, better medical devices and task shift to release capacity but most health prevention and care will continue to be delivered by human beings. Without people to fill those new jobs the post 2015 global health goals will not be achieved and a global scramble for health workers is likely with low and middle income countries losing skilled health workers to richer parts of the world.

Although women are often portrayed as victims in global health, they comprise over 70% of the global health and social care workforce. [4] Women currently deliver health and social care to around 5 billion people and their work contributes around 5 % global GDP (approximately US$3 trillion). [5] Remove women from the global health system and there is no system. But the irony is that in this majority female profession, men hold an estimated 75% of global health decision making roles.[6] Men lead global health and women deliver it. It is also ironic that the gender pay gap in global health (estimated at 26% for high income countries and 29% for upper middle income countries) is higher than the global average for all other employment sectors.[7]  In other words, the men who reach the top in global health reward themselves well compared to the women segregated into the lower paid, lower status and less secure parts of the profession. And to compound that inequality, around half the work women in health and social care remain unrecognized and unpaid, seen as a natural extension of the caring role socially assigned to women everywhere. And the burden of that unpaid care work impacts their own health, income and life chances.

The 40 million new health and social care jobs needed by 2030 will not be created without urgent and serious investment in the female health and social care workforce. Doing things differently does not mean creating more jobs on current terms and putting more women into underpaid or unpaid roles in health and social care systems overwhelmingly led by men. Business as usual will not achieve the transformation needed to deliver #HealthforAll.  Currently global health is flying on one wing, not drawing its leadership from 100% of the talent pool. Evidence from other sectors show that diverse leadership teams are likely to be more innovative and more successful.  We have untapped potential in global health. Quality and outcomes suffer because the women who deliver health and social care are too often unable to contribute diverse ideas and perspectives from their professional experience and lived experience as women. As women form the majority of medical and allied health graduates in an increasing number of countries, we cannot afford to lose female health workers due to the pressure of insecure job terms, discrimination, harassment or violence. New and existing health and social care jobs must be created as decent work for women where women and men enter leadership posts based on merit. Gender equality must be a goal in health outreach, programs and delivery, as well in leadership at all levels.

Realizing the Triple Gender Dividend in Global Health

Since our formation in 2015, Women in Global Health, has advocated for gender equality in global health leadership at all levels. In 2017, recognizing the crucial role of the health workforce in health systems and achieving UHC and the SDGs, WGH formed the Gender Equity Hub with WHO, under the umbrella of the Global Health Workforce Network. The Gender Equity Hub, convenes a critical group of partner organizations and experts to:

‘accelerate large-scale gender-transformative progress to address gender inequities and biases in the health and social workforce through evidence and data, policy tools, advocacy and implementation.’

Last month, a report issued by the UN Secretary General [8] recognized that:

’… 70 per cent of the global health workforce is female, creating jobs in the health sector is an investment in women’s empowerment and gender equality.’

We welcome this statement and argue that as member states meet in the UN General Assembly and UN High Level Meetings on NCDs and TB this month, investment in the female health and social care workforce must be an urgent priority. NCDs and TB both shift the focus to the primary health care level, where prevention and management is generally carried out by female nurses and community health workers.  Moreover, investment in the female health and social care workforce has a wider multiplier effect, offering a Triple Gender Dividend comprised of:

1) Health Dividend: since expanding women’s work in health and social care is the only way to fill the millions of new jobs that must be created to meet growing demand and reach UHC and health related SDGs by 2030;

2) Gender Equality Dividend: investment in women and the education of girls to enter formal, paid work will increase gender equality and women’s empowerment as women gain income, education and autonomy.  And in turn this is likely to improve family education, nutrition, women’s and children’s health and other aspects of development.

3) Development Dividend: New jobs created will fuel economic growth.

Image courtesy: Women in Global Health

This gender dividend, if realised, will improve the health and lives of people everywhere. The health and social care worker shortage is global. This is everybody’s business.

We are delighted to see growing commitment to invest in the health workforce, including women, but IS THE TIDE TURNING? Will greater investment in the female health and social care workforce be agreed at the 73rd UNGA and UN High Level Meetings on NCDs and TB? Such commitments must then follow through into the G20 in Argentina,  the “Working for Health” five-year action plan for health employment and inclusive economic growth, created by ILO, OECD and WHO and into national health workforce plans. [9]

Ten Asks: doing things differently in Gender Equality and Global Health

Finally, we have 10 asks for UN Member States and international organizations meeting at the UN in New York this month:  

1) Change the narrative:  women in global health are change agents and drivers of health, not victims.
2) Shift the mind-set: take advantage of 100% of the talent pool, especially women, all genders, marginalized groups and people from diverse backgrounds.
3) Include voices from the South: especially women from the South, as central to global health decision making.
4) Record and value unpaid health and social care work by girls and women in order to move that work into the formal labor market.
5) Adopt gender transformative strategies with programs and policies that are enabling for all genders in global health work and organizations. Focus on changing the environment, not on fixing women to fit into unequal organizations and cultures.
6) Root out inequity: address the power relations and structures that promote inequity in our work and organizations, especially all forms of discrimination, harassment and violence, which commonly affect women.
7) Close all gender gaps including the gender data gap, gender pay gap, and gender leadership gap.
8) Customize policy solutions to fit the societal and cultural context, but do not comprise on the goal.
9) Support collective action through movements and partnerships, to accelerate progress, particularly on employment rights such as parental leave to enable all parents to take paid work.
10) Understand that gender equality in global health is everyone’s business: this is not a ‘women’s issue’, it applies to all sectors, countries and people.

Image courtesy: Women in Global Health

Business as usual will not achieve the transformation in global health needed to kick start long term change. Too much is at stake and the price is too high – in addition to the human cost of preventable death and suffering, the World Bank estimates gender inequities cost US $160 Trillion in wealth and social capital. [10] To do things differently and deliver #HealthForAll, we must invest urgently and seriously in the female health and social care workforce.

Acknowledgements: WGH would like to acknowledge the global health civil society and workforce organizations also voicing the importance of addressing the gender dimensions of the health workforce, RinGS, FIP, Intrahealth International, Frontline Health Workers Coalition, JPHIEGO, HRH2030, Nursing Now and many other members of the Gender Equity HubGlobal Health Workforce Network.


[1] UN General Assembly 73rd Session Report of the Secretary General ‘Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade on the Eradication of Poverty (2018-2027)’  8 August 2018

[2] WHO Draft thirteenth general programme of work 2019–2023, Accessed at: 

[3] WHO- Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health Workforce 2030 (2016). Note: Health workers data refers to physicians, nurses, midwives and a limited group of other health occupations, based on WHO databases.

[4] Improving employment and working conditions in health services – ILO 2017. Accessed at:—ed_dialogue/—sector/documents/publication/wcms_548288.pdf

[5] Langer, Ana et. al. (2015). Women and Health: the key for sustainable development. The Lancet , Volume 386 , Issue 9999 , 1165 – 1210

[6] Women in Global Health 2018

[7] This refers to an unadjusted gender wage gap. Data available from 40 countries (27 high-income; eight upper middle-income; four lower-middle-income; one low-income); latest available data: 2011–13. Source: ILOSTAT based on national labour force surveys and official estimates of each country.

[8] UN General Assembly 73rd Session Report of the Secretary General ‘Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade on the Eradication of Poverty (2018-2027)’  8 August 2018

[9] Working for Health: A Five-Year Action Plan for Health Employment and Inclusive Economic Growth (2017–21), WHO, 2018. Accessed at:

[10] Globally, Countries Lose $160 Trillion in Wealth Due to Earnings Gaps Between Women and Men, World Bank  2018. Accessed at:

Investing in TB Research: World Leaders Urged to Commit to End TB

This blog post was written by the Communications Team at the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance). TB Alliance is dedicated to the discovery, development and delivery of better, faster-acting and affordable tuberculosis drugs that are available to those who need them. They are a 2018 Global Health Council Member.

A Lingering Epidemic

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of humanity’s oldest and most persistent plagues, dating back thousands of years. Despite being deemed a global health emergency in 1993, TB has since become the deadliest infectious disease in the world, killing more than 1.6 million people last year. Drug-resistant TB accounts for roughly a third of global deaths due to antimicrobial resistant infections and has tragically low survival rates, between 34% and 55% depending on how resistant the infection is to available drugs.

The absence of adequate tools – diagnostics, vaccines and drugs – to quickly and safely prevent and treat all forms of TB has allowed the pandemic to linger and spiral out of control.

                            Photo: One day of typical treatment for drug-resistant TB

Currently, treatment for drug-resistant TB is extremely complicated, expensive, and lengthy, involving a wide variety of medicines that can bring debilitating side-effects like deafness, include painful injectable drugs. These treatments are administered for nine months to two years or longer. Today, people with Multi Drug Resistant-TB (MDR-TB) often go untreated, and of those who do receive treatment only about half are cured. Innovation in TB treatment is urgently needed.

Investing in a New Generation of Cures

New drug combinations with the potential to more safely and rapidly cure all forms of TB are in late stages of development. If proven effective, transformative new cures could save millions of lives and help lift a heavy economic burden on people and governments alike. However, realizing these breakthroughs and reaching those in need is no small endeavor – true success will require a meaningful and sustained commitment to research and product development from all nations.

Breakthroughs on the Horizon

Last month,  TB Alliance announced the launch of the SimpliciTB trial, a pivotal clinical trial to determine whether the new BPaMZ drug regimen can treat TB and drug-resistant TB more quickly and effectively than currently-available treatments, reducing TB treatment by a third and MDR-TB treatment by as much as 18 months. With additional investments in research and development for new cures, we can further build out the evidence base for transformative new treatments and overcome the threat of TB.

It’s Time for World Leaders to Act

Major advances in TB treatment, prevention and diagnosis present game-changing new technologies that can save lives, keep families together and position communities and countries for success without the burdens of this ancient disease.

The first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (HLM) on September 26 is a landmark opportunity to marshal political will and resources to end TB and achieve this vision. Member states can defeat TB and overcome antimicrobial resistance by closing the funding gap for TB research and product development through equitable approaches, securing universal access to new medicines and fostering global collaboration.

In the years to come, we expect to look back at this meeting’s outcome as the moment when world leaders marshalled the political will and resources needed to finally end TB and leave no one behind.

Learn more about TB Alliance here.

Creating Shared Value in Global Health: Growing Markets, Making Progress

This blog post was written by Neeraja Bhavaraju, Director at  FSG. FSG is a mission-driven consulting firm for leaders in search of large-scale, lasting social change to help them unleash their full potential to re-imagine social change.’They are a 2018 Global Health Council Member.

Every pharmaceutical and medical device company is trying to explore new markets, grow their reach, and expand their impact – in other words, to create “shared value” by delivering business value for the company by improving access to quality healthcare products and services for people around the world.

While most business leaders know shared value opportunities in low-income or hard-to-reach markets exist, realizing their potential is a different story. To do so, companies must work in new ways, develop deep external partnerships, and grapple with some of the most complex, multi-faceted challenges we face as a global community. Fortunately, this complexity has not deterred a group of innovative companies who are actively working to create shared value in global health.

FSG first highlighted these innovative efforts in 2013 in a report titled Competing by Saving Lives: How Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Companies Create Shared Value in Global Health. At that time, companies were just starting to shift away from a reliance on product donation programs towards business-driven strategies to build and strengthen sustainable markets for their products.

Now, in a new interview series, we are checking-in with those we profiled to understand not just what they are doing, but how they are doing it. In these conversations, leading shared value practitioners share their successes, struggles, and hard-won lessons learned. Across the interviews, we explore how companies are starting new efforts and evolving long-standing initiatives, how they are establishing new partnerships and investing in internal innovation, and how they are expanding the definition of their core business to achieve greater access and impact.

Highlights from the interviews include:

  • Addressing the global unmet need for vision correction and eyeglasses through a sustainable, scalable business model with Essilor
  • Leveraging the unique power of generics manufacturers to address the biggest global health challenges with Mylan
  • Finding new ways to expand access to care and treatment in emerging markets with Eli Lilly
  • Tackling the cancer challenge in sub-Saharan Africa with Pfizer.
  • Innovating new business models and making the shift from products to services with Medtronic.

We will continue to add new interviews over the coming months with other leading companies effectively addressing global health challenges, including UPS, Merck, Abbott Labs, and Novartis among others. You can subscribe on the site to receive updates as we continue to engage in an exciting dialogue about how companies can best contribute to solving global health challenges.

You can learn more about FSG here.

How I Became an Advocate for Families Affected by Congenital Heart Defects

By Hannah Almira Amora, Congenital Heart Defect Advocate & Former President of Let it Echo, Inc.

My Story

When my second son, Maven, was born in 2011, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (CHD). His CHD included an atrial septal defect (ASD), a ventricular septal defect (VSD), pulmonary stenosis, and a right-sided aortic arch. Out of those conditions, we were informed that although his ASD and VSD may resolve on their own, his pulmonary stenosis would need to be corrected by surgery when he was older. And that correction would cost us around $20,000 USD – a significant amount for a young, working-class family living in Cebu City, Philippines.

When Maven was 4-months-old, he started developing deep blue skin, nails, and lips – symptoms that prompted us to revisit his cardiologist. These tet spells, which are caused by a lack of oxygen, indicated that he would need the surgery sooner – either when he turned one-year-old, or the latest, at age 2. However, two months later, another echocardiogram (his second since diagnosis) revealed that he had Tetralogy of Fallot or TOF since he developed a new defect, right ventricular hypertrophy, and consequently, he needed surgery as soon as possible.

Maven recovering from his surgery back in July 2012. Photo Credit: Hannah Almira Amora

As that reality set in, we began to prepare for the surgery. Based on our research, we needed to have 77% of our projected cost in hand in order for our son to be admitted for surgery. This amount doesn’t include the cost of flying our family to Manila, the country’s capital, where there were skilled surgeons who could address Maven’s case at his young age. To address this obstacle, we turned to our online friends and created a Facebook page, Maven’s Heart Fund, to see if we could raise sufficient funds. We also applied to a couple of foundations during this period; however, we were not considered poor enough (both my husband and I worked) to be qualified. Finally, we checked if our health care insurance would cover the surgery, but it would only cover 13% of the projected cost. As a result, we focused on our fundraising campaign. We were thankful enough to be blessed with a community who responded and supported us, and at the end of our 3-month campaign we had generated the amount we needed, and then some. 


Despite our family’s struggles, Maven was fortunate enough to get the care he needed. However, I recognize that not everyone can overcome the barriers we encountered. That is why, together with other CHD affected families we met during our fundraising campaign, we started Let it Echo, Inc., a community of warriors, survivors, and storytellers who provide hope and support to ailing CHD-stricken Filipino families through empowerment, education, and counseling.

13% of the projected cost. As a result, we focused on our fundraising campaign. We were thankful enough to be blessed with a community who responded and supported us, and at the end of our 3-month campaign we had generated the amount we needed, and then some. 

Speaking Up

Besides supporting each other as patient advocates, we need to collectively call upon policymakers and medical providers to do more to ensure that children and their families receive timely and quality care for CHD.

Below are my top three recommendations:

  1. Make CHD Treatment Broad and Inclusive: For the past five years of serving other CHD families, I have observed that the existing government programs for CHD patients are quite limited and exclusive. Limited because they only cater to children with certain conditions (specifically VSD and TOF), and exclusive because if a child has other congenital defects or if that child is beyond 10-years-old (for TOF correction) and 5-years-old (for VSD closure), he or she is ineligible for the program. As a result, these subgroups of children within the CHD community, along with those who have had previous surgeries and those who have RHD (and have similar problems and the same medical resources), are left to fend for themselves to get the essential surgery.

  2. Increase Access to Qualified CHD Medical Providers: During my son’s ordeal, I also observed that for a country with over 7,000 islands and 100 million people, only a handful private and government hospitals cater to pediatric cardiac surgery, and most of these providers are located within the country’s capital. As my family experienced, it is very expensive to travel to the capital and difficult to adjust to an unfamiliar setting without key family support present. Moreover, for emergency medical cases, there is inadequate transportation in place to move patients to the capital for more qualified help. I strongly urge the Philippine government to look into developing a transport system for medical emergencies for our archipelago of 7,000+ islands with limited CHD centers.

  3. Invest in CHD Health Workers and Research: Besides limited CHD health facilities, there is also a lack of qualified surgeons for a common birth defect. Perhaps this is a result of many healthcare workers – social workers, nurses and resident doctors – in the Philippines being overworked and underpaid. These dismal working conditions often lead to a lack of empathy of health care providers towards patients and families. Again, I urge the Philippine government to revisit its compensation packages of healthcare workers, encourage young medical students to venture further into pediatric cardiology, and invest in developing more centers of excellence that can treat pediatric cardiac cases. It is also important that medical providers and governments invest more in research and data gathering in order to get a better picture of the actual status of CHD (and RHD) patients and families and effectively match the right resources to the needs of patients.

Pushing Boundaries

At the end of September, I plan to attend the High-Level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases (HLM on NCDs) taking place on the heels of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York City. By participating in the HLM on NCDs as a civil society representative on Global Health Council’s delegation, I hope to learn best practices from other advocates in advancing the NCD agenda, network with individuals and organizations who can help me amplify our stories, and encourage more people to be part of a sustainable CHD ecosystem in the Philippines.

Hannah and Maven in June 2018. Photo Credit: Hannah Almira Amora