Last weekend, in a progress report on NCDs, the UN Secretary-General called for a paradigm shift in the approach to NCDs. You’ll read all about it in this newsletter, but let’s start with a suggestion of my own in this regard. As authoritarianism is all the rage now, and many countries are having a hell of a time enjoying populist moments (while counting for their more cosmopolitan moments on Elon Musk), I think it would be good to re-frame the NCDs for the UN High-Level meeting later this year, in line with the new times. As I get older (and grumpier), I also begin to realize that NCDs are actually – together with dying, obviously – one of the rare (fairly) democratic things in life. Sooner or later, NCDs will come and get you. True, the poor are (a lot) more affected, and some people suffer (far) more than others, but still, NCDs are one of the few equalizers in life (though not in terms of prevention & access to care, unfortunately). So, in the light of all this, how about reframing NCDs as “The People’s Diseases”? That born again Mao in Beijing surely won’t object, and although I have a hunch the NCD Alliance – which would have to be relabeled as “The People’s Diseases Alliance” – might not be entirely happy (some ill-informed people might mix up the People’s Diseases Alliance with the People’s Health Movement ), we think it’d be a nice complement to the overall ‘Health for All’ and UHC battles. Heck, the new framing might also help overcome some of the current political tribalism in many countries, another key ingredient of our times.
International Women’s Day was also celebrated this week. This newsletter features an editorial by Sana Contractor & Sara Van Belle on the new Global Health 50/50 report, launched in London on Thursday. Women will always have the only power that really matters in this world, to love or not to love, but arguably, that doesn’t offer much consolation in the important global battle for gender equality where so much still needs to be done around the globe, with many horrors done to women on a daily basis. As long as women and girls leave countries because they feel their country fails them, all men in this world should feel utterly ashamed of themselves. Many more women don’t even have that option.
On a more encouraging note, the Gates Foundation, clearly seeing the light more and more in a number of areas, launched its first ever gender equality strategy this week. DFID also published its Strategic vision for gender equality. Strategic vision & the UK don’t rhyme very well these days, you’ll say, but well worth a read. More in general, as UNAIDS’ Sidibé noted, “… change is happening. This year, International Women’s Day is being celebrated at a time when there is a much-needed spotlight on issues of sexual harassment across multiple sectors, including the private sector, governments, international organizations and civil society.” The UN (via SG Guterres) had a similar uplifting message – The ‘time is now’ to transform the global push for women’s rights into action, arguing that “International Women’s Day comes at a pivotal moment, and with a wave of women’s activism – from the #MeToo movement to #TimesUp and beyond – exposing the structures that have allowed women’s oppression to flourish.”
Elsewhere, in Cape Town, at the 17th World conference on Tobacco or Health, Bloomberg Philantropies launched STOP, a global tobacco watchdog. Derek Yach had to hang out on the Cape Town shores as he was not allowed in, having “moved to the dark side”.
Now we still need a similar initiative to STOP our destructive economic & financial system. Not counting on Bloomberg for that one. On Peter Sands we count even less, after reading about his plans for the Global Fund in this week’s Lancet issue.
Enjoy your reading.
The editorial team
(you find the pdf of the newsletter here: IHPn460s )