Myanmar and Rwanda lead efforts to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases
Oct 30, 2020

Addressing non-communicable diseases reduces COVID-19 deaths

Berlin, Germany -- ( ASIA TODAY ) -- Today, at the World Health Summit, health ministers from Myanmar and Rwanda presented national strategies and costed action plans to reduce deaths from non-communicable diseases. These strategies and action plans detail how the two countries are fulfilling their commitment to achieving global Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030.

“Some countries are currently on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, to significantly reduce premature mortality for both men and women from non-communicable diseases by 2030. I am convinced that the Rwanda strategic plan for the next five years would allow us to make a big step forward,” said Dr. Ngamije, Minister of Health, Rwanda. “More than 70 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths are due to non-communicable diseases. People infected with SARS COV-2 are likely to be severely affected or die if they already have an underlying non-communicable disease.”

“The interrelationship between COVID-19 and non-communicable diseases is dangerous. Lockdowns have disrupted patient care. People surviving COVID-19, but with non-communicable diseases, could become more complicated to treat in the future,” said Dr. Myint Htwe, Union Minister of Health and Sports, Myanmar. “More than two-thirds of premature deaths in Myanmar are due to non-communicable diseases. Successful execution of this strategy will reduce mortality from non-communicable diseases and limit COVID-19 deaths.”

Rwanda’s strategic plan is focused on a five-year period from 2020 to 2025, and will directly benefit 4.8 million people. Based on a detailed costed action plan, USD699.1 million is needed to achieve its goals. Myanmar has completed a similar exercise and aims to support 11 million people in 2021 and 2022. An investment of USD101 million is now being sought to reach this goal.

Ministers Ngamije and Htwe presented their national plans, and how they aim to raise the required financing, at a session at the World Health Summit. Other speakers at the ‘Access to sustainable non-communicable disease treatment and care’ session were:
 Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission
 Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health, Gambia
 Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, Director, Department of Non-Communicable Diseases, World Health Organization
 Hubertus Von Baumbach, Chair, Board of Managing Directors, Boehringer Ingelheim
 Mukul Bhola, Chief Executive Officer, The Defeat-NCD Partnership, The United Nations Institute for Training and Research

“The presentations by Myanmar and Rwanda at the World Health Summit are a major milestone in progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030,” said Mukul Bhola, CEO, The Defeat-NCD Partnership. “Their leadership in presenting costed action plans is a first among low- and middle-income countries. We are working together to forge partnerships with international development banks, private sector companies, health entrepreneurs and civil society organisations to jointly implement these plans. We are also calling upon these partners, alongside philanthropic foundations and trusts, to help finance the identified gaps to turn plans into practical reality.”

Fifteen million people die prematurely every year from non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer.

Taking part in a question-and-answer session at the event were the following speakers:
 Dr. Timothy Sylvester Harris, Prime Minister, Saint Kitts and Nevis; Lead Head for Health and Human Development in the Caribbean; Chair, High Level Council, The Defeat-NCD Partnership
 Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Bhutan
 Dr. Juan Carlos Zevallos, Minister of Health, Ecuador
 Tine Mørch Smith, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN and other International Organisations in Geneva, Permanent Mission of Norway
 Dr. Virginija Dambrauskaite, Policy Officer at the Health Sector, European Commission, International Cooperation and Development, B4.Education, Health, Culture
 Francesco Rocca, President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
 Dr. Svetlana Akselrod, Director, Global NCD Platform, World Health Organization
 Olga Sclovscaia, Regional Head in Europe and Central Asia, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, World Bank Group
 Srividya Jagannathan, Global Lead – Lifesciences, International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group
 Sonalini Khetrapal, Health Specialist, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, Asian Development Bank
 Dr. Ammar Abdo Ahmed, Lead Global Health Specialist, Islamic Development Bank Group
 Christoph Loch, Director, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
 Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon
 Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India
 Menassie Taddese, Regional President, Emerging Markets, Pfizer
 Amalia Adler-Waxman, Vice President, Global Head, Environment, Social and Governance, Teva
 Gina Agiostratidou, Programme Director, Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Type 1 Diabetes Programme

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About The Defeat-NCD Partnership
The Defeat-NCD Partnership is a practical response to the widespread call for action on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Formally launched alongside the UN General Assembly in 2018, we are a ‘public-private-people’ partnership anchored in the United Nations but extending well beyond to include governments, multilateral agencies, civil society, academia, philanthropies, and the private sector.

Our vision is clear — universal health coverage for NCDs. To achieve this, our core mission focuses on assisting approximately 90 low-resource countries via comprehensive action across four interconnected service pillars: national NCD capacity building, community scale-up of NCD services, affordability and accessibility of essential NCD supplies, and sustainable NCD financing.

Contact: Heron Holloway, +65 9088 1967,
Communications Specialist, The Defeat-NCD Partnership

United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Singapore | +65 9088 1967 |