Jose Luis Castro, new Chair of NCD Alliance and Executive Director, The Union
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A few days before Jose Luis Castro, Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) took over the dual responsibility of the Chair of the steering committee of the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance, he spoke at a webinar hosted by CNS (Citizen News Service) in the lead up to the World Heart Day. A few days later, he inspired us once again by his thoughtful remarks delivered to the NCD Alliance, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, while assuming his new charge.
Here are some valuable excerpts from Jose's expert remarks:
"We all recognise the realities that comprise our own sense of urgency to combat the NCDs that are the cause of two-thirds of the global mortality. Their burden and impact continue to increase, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), that are ill prepared and ill equipped to face it, given the extreme shortfall of funding faced by them. Moreover, only a paltry amount of 1.2% of development assistance for health goes to fight NCDs.
"This is why there is a great urgency to press on the agenda of the NCDs. There was an expanded political commitment for the NCDs from the 2011 UN declaration and there was also the opportunity to strive for their inclusion in the post-2015 development agenda that includes a goal of reducing premature deaths due to NCDs by one-third by 2030.
"Now that there have been some impressive gains in shaping the structure of the global approach, and this goal is enshrined within the global-development agenda, it is time to shift our efforts from talking and framing to acting. Now is the time for translating words into sustained implementation at the national and regional levels.
"At the NCD Alliance, to achieve the long-term goal of one-third reduction in premature NCD mortality by 2030, 3 interim goals have been set to be achieved in the next 5 years by 2020. These are to:
"(i) Integrate NCDs as a priority in national health and development planning;
"(ii) Mobilize adequate and sustainable human and financial resources for NCDs at all levels; and
"(iii) Improve the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) and alliances nationally and regionally to effectively influence policies on NCD prevention and control.
"Even though we recognize that more of the same is insufficient, we will strive to focus on 4 strategic directions to achieve these goals:
"Maintain pressure at the global level for a coordinated global advocacy
"The inclusion of the NCDs in the post 2015 agenda is just the beginning and not the end of this global response. Advocacy on these issues will remain crucial if we have to see hard-earned political commitments translate into concrete actions, resources and improvements in health and the well being for people. We must influence and drive future.
"The HIV/AIDS and women's and children's health communities have demonstrated the crucial role civil society can play in holding governments accountable to commitments made. The NCD Alliance will act as a global watchdog, monitoring and reviewing the progress made on NCD targets and also support CSOs around the world to do the same.
"Build the capacity of NCD civil society