Panel discusses NCD challenges in the Asia-Pacific

ASEAN NCD Alliance / Sanofi

The Union recently participated in a panel on the rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at the Sanofi Partners in Patient Health Asia Pacific Forum 2015 in Singapore.  Speaking to patient advocates at the event, Matthew Coghlan, Director of The Union Asia Pacific Office, emphasised that this pandemic of diseases poses two closely related challenges for non-governmental organisations and advocacy groups.

The first is to persuade governments that NCDs and their risk factors are not only a health issue, but also economic and social issues. Consequently they must include NCDs in their development strategies and national budgets to ensure that integrated policies and funding are in place. 

Second, effective action against NCDs will require governments to demonstrate their leadership and commitment by bringing all levels of the health system and all relevant ministries and agencies to the table to develop integrated policies and programmes. 

Finally, since prevention is always better than cure, Coghlan pointed out that promoting healthy needs to be a priority.

Regarding steps forward, he said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has a Taskforce on NCDs and a new Post-2015 Health Development Agenda that will provide focal points for advocates to conduct research and suggest policies. However, more funding is needed for these activities.

Other speakers on the panel represented the Hong Kong Physiotherapy Association, the Heart Foundation of Australia, the Diabetes Association of Thailand and the Tianjin Medical University Metabolic Disease Hospital in China.  

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Photo: Matthew Coghlan of The Union (at right) addresses the audience.