Grant from the NCD Alliance to take forward our work on NCDs/COVID-19

The UK Working Group on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), an informal coalition of 23 civil society organisations, is delighted to have been awarded a grant from the NCD Alliance to accelerate the response to the coronavirus pandemic through the first Civil Society Solidarity Fund on Noncommunicable Diseases and COVID-19. The formal announcement from the NCD Alliance is here.

Todd Harper, President of the NCD Alliance, said:

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shows many intersections between COVID-19 and NCDs. People living with NCDs are more vulnerable to COVID-19, with a substantially higher risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the virus. The pandemic is also impacting the poorest communities around the world and the most vulnerable people in every country. The Civil Society Solidarity Fund was born out of the need to tackle NCDs as fundamental to health security and to prevent a reversal of gains made in NCD prevention and control around the world.’

The Solidarity Fund has competitively awarded grants of up to US$15,000 to national and regional NCD alliances to support them in addressing the critical needs of people living with NCDs during COVID-19 via advocacy and communication activities that will support stronger organisational stability and resilience.

The UK Working Group on NCDs will use the $15,000 (£12,000) awarded to support and encourage the UK government to better respond to NCDs globally, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK is one of the major funders of global health. However, despite the massive and urgent need for development assistance to promote a healthy environment, prevent NCDs and ensure that people with NCDs get the treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care that they need, the development response from the Department for International Development (DFID) has been slow on this issue, with a continuing focus on Millennium Development Goal priorities, rather than an adjustment to the realities of health in the 21st century. Now, COVID-19 has clearly exposed the vulnerabilities of populations around the world who are living with NCDs, particularly older people, and the inadequacies of already weak health systems to provide appropriate protection, treatment and care.

The recent announcement of the merger of DFID and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), means that the work of the UK Working Group that is being funded by this grant will be even more important. As outlined in our recent article in the London Economic, the merger is taking place at a particularly challenging time for global health. It sharply brings into focus the expertise and unique strengths of DFID that must not be lost and that can be brought to bear on NCDs while, at the same time, raising opportunities for greater coordination across departments and an increased focus on this leading cause of death and disability worldwide.

We look forward to working in partnership to ensure that the needs of people living with and vulnerable to NCDs are not left behind as we move to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and build back better beyond it. As the UK member of the NCD Alliance, we will benefit from the experience of other Alliance members around the world, as well as drawing on the considerable experience of our own constituting organisations. We are very grateful for this opportunity.

Katy Cooper, coordinator of the UK Working Group on NCDs, said:

This is a vital opportunity to bring together infectious & non-communicable disease, health & development, and national priorities & international aid to put action on NCDs at the heart of efforts to create a healthier and more sustainable world. Our thanks to the NCD Alliance for enabling the UK Working Group on NCDs to take this forward.’

Julia Beart, Chief Executive of Primary Care International (PCI), which is managing the grant on behalf of the Working Group, said:

‘As a member of the Working Group we are delighted to be supporting this work. COVID-19, NCDs and poverty, recently described as a perfect storm, represent a global health emergency on a scale which is difficult to comprehend let alone respond to. It is a very timely moment for us to work with the UK government and other member organisations to ensure that NCDs are included at the centre of our global efforts to build back better.

UK alliance of Civil Society welcomes Solidarity Fund Grant from the @NCDAlliance to take forward @GlobalNCDsUK’s work on #NCDs and #COVID19. It’s time to #ActOnNCDs

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