#UNGA73: Making the UN Relevant to all People

This post was written by Victoria Rodriguez, Advocacy Associate at Global Health Council.

This year marked the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). UNGA73 focused on making the UN relevant to all people through shared responsibilities for peaceful and equitable global leadership. In conjunction, the third high-level meeting (HLM) on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and the first HLM on tuberculosis (TB) convened members states, experts from the field, and civil society to discuss ways to better support each community.

HLMs on TB and NCDs

Heads of State, government officials, and civil society members gathered to discuss capacity building around addressing TB, which in 2017 alone, attributed to 1.6 million deaths and NCDs, which account for 70% of deaths globally.

Mike Bloomberg, World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for NCDs and Injuries, addresses the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs during UNGA.

During the HLM on TB, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, Mark Green, called on the global community to accelerate shared responsibility to address and end TB via the Global Accelerator to End Tuberculosis initiative. The initiative will leverage resources from countries, the private sector, and community organizations in order to meet the UN target of treating 40 million people by 2022, with a focus on countries with the highest burden of TB. USAID will work directly with nearly 50 communities within TB priority countries to provide accessible services, resulting in increased diagnosis and treatment success rates.

Additionally, USAID made a $30 million commitment to strengthen and accelerate India’s efforts to end TB via the USAID-India End TB Alliance initiative. The initiative will convene leading experts in the public and private sectors to offer innovative approaches to combating TB in India.

Patient Advocate Hannah Amora speaking at a #UNGA side-event in NY.

The next day, the focus shifted to how the global community can come together to address NCDs. While the U.S. did not make any financial commitments to tackle NCDs, commitments to leverage innovation and partnerships to address this disease burden did arise.

A joint statement from GHC and the NCD Roundtable, a diverse coalition of over 60 organizations, commended efforts to bring forth discussion on NCDs with the recognition of mental health as a large contributor to the global burden of disease. The statement reiterated the importance of consistently engaging civil society in conversations that directly impact them, adopting a life-course approach that includes young people facing NCDs, and developing concrete targets with mechanisms for government accountability to push the conversation around NCDs forward.

GHC hopes to see the discussion come to fruition through tangible actions. Recognizing the importance of TB and NCDs was well noted, but concrete actions and financial commitments are necessary to truly address the burdens these diseases pose, and we need to ensure that these discussions are carried into next year’s HLM on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). UHC cannot be achieved without addressing these burdens.

Global Health Council (GHC) Participation

GHC had the privilege of inviting Hannah Amora, an advocate standing up for solutions to address congenital heart disease (CHD) and the mother of a child living with CHD, to UNGA73. As principal of her own consultancy company, she was thrown into the world of CHD with the birth of her second son. That journey led her to becoming a champion advocate and establishing her organization, Let it ECHO, to raise awareness of CHD and develop programs in her country of the Philippines.

Learn more about Hannah’s story, or read her contributor blog post.

Also, read the Devex Op-Ed penned by Hannah Amora, Patient Advocate, and Loyce Pace, GHC President and Executive Director advocating  for patient voices to be an important part of beating NCDs.