Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have significant socioeconomic impacts on societies, especially in low and middle income countries because they are increasingly prevalent and stifle the poverty reduction initiatives included in the UN Millennium Development Goals. In 2011, the UN General assembly adopted a Political Declaration on NCDs. It led to a comprehensive NCD Global Action Plan at the WHO which also provided for the formation of the Global Coordination Mechanism for NCDs (GCM). Established in September 2014, the GCM is a separate secretariat to advocate and raise awareness, disseminate information of new scientific research and best practice, encourage innovation, advance multisectoral action, and advocate the mobilization of resources. It has convened two Working Groups in February 2015 and convened its first multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral dialogue in April 2015. This article summarizes the work of the two Working Parties.
The two Working Groups are addressing commitments from the Political Declaration on NCDs to get the private sector involved and to allocate financial resources for the prevention and control of NCDs(7). The two Working Groups have specific agendas and scheduled meetings and are expected to submit final reports by the end of 2015.
The GCM Working Group on how to realize governments’ commitments to engage with the private sector had its first meeting on February 18-19 2015. There were discussions of the current initiatives to incorporate the private sector within the targets areas of the GCM and to review and assess progress on marketing, product reformulation and salt reduction, workplace programmes, and access to medicines. On this last issue, for example, some preliminary conclusions were that it may be better to approach partnerships with private www.gsogeneva.ch sector entities by making them more specific to a certain disease rather than just NCDs in general; that there is a high potential for success in working with existing publicprivate partnerships and on strengthening their effectiveness; that NGOs may be a significant source for the distribution of drugs in small communities; and that large pharmaceutical companies should be monitored on the quality of drugs being produced. These kinds of preliminary conclusions have left the Working Group with things to consider and work towards for its next meeting, which is scheduled for 17-18 June 2015. The Working Group also came to the conclusion to hold separate bilateral consultations in June with each different stakeholder group (private sector entities, NGOs, philanthropic and academic institutions, as well as UN and international organizations), with member states present to observe both in person and via webcast.
The second Working Group on realizing governments’ commitment to funding NCD programs met on February 23-24 2015 and discussed the commitments made by the 2011 Political Declaration on NCDs on domestic financing, bilateral/multilateral financing, and innovative financing. The discussion on domestic funding extensively looked at the possibility of tobacco taxing as a sustainable source of income for states to use to fund NCD initiatives, while also preventing the use of tobacco. In the session on bilateral and multilateral funding, the concept of focusing on the “best buy” interventions was discussed. It was agreed that lower income countries need to have more of an emphasis and sense of urgency behind prioritizing NCD initiatives. The concept of multi-sectoral aid also came up, which intersects with the other Working Group and their work with the private sector. The final session on innovative financing considered the potential for lotteries, private sector partnerships, reducing costs by working with industry, micro financing, bonds, and many other suggestions. This Working Group will meet again on 6 to 7 May and for a third meeting on 23 to 24 September 2015