From a review of the Global Action Plan 2008 – 2013, there is still a need for stronger political engagement; funding for national plans is not assured and is constantly weak even within Ministries of Health, with the bulk of funding going to communicable diseases.
At the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) consultation meeting in Nairobi meeting on 8 – 10 October 2012, African advocates for palliative care strongly noted that the holistic management of those living and already dying of NCDs need be explicit in the Action Plan which largely focuses on prevention.
The workshop resulted in the publication of the 'zero draft' Global NCD Action Plan, which will be further discussed during a second informal consultation with member states and UN agencies in early November 2012. Following these informal discussions, the UN secretariat will prepare a 'First Draft' Action Plan, to be considered by member states at the 132nd session of the WHO Executive Board in January 2013.
WHO Member states showed strong support for palliative care to be incorporated as a priority indicator in the Global Monitoring Framework for NCDs with 28 of 33 African member states rating it as a priority.
Development partners present, including the African Palliative Care Association and Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance were appreciated for the renewed commitment to support countries of the African region to control NCDs.
"We in the WHO are expecting that the participants from member states make a strong case on the discussions from the meeting for their governments to take action on all the issues discussed," said Director of Disease Prevention and Control, also noting that the meeting was a 2nd landmark meeting on NCDs in Africa, following the Regional Ministerial Consultation on Non-Communicable Diseases, Brazzaville, Congo in 2011.
Discussion outcomes relevant to Africa
From the consultative discussions, it was clear that the burden of NCDs is growing and affects all in Africa. Some NCDs such as sickle cell disease are a priority specific to Africa although this might not be the case globally. The prevalence of risk factors is increasing in Africa and interventions that address these risk factors comprehensively can reduce this burden.
As the process for finalising the new Global Action Plan 2013 – 2020, there is a need to consider those NCDs that are a priority to Africa which may not be a priority at the global level. There is also a fundamental conflict of interest between public health and tobacco as well as other areas such as fast foods and alcohol. Member states were called upon to ensure there is relevant regulatory framework to address these conflicts.
Member states asked for technical, finance and research related support, among others in their efforts of strengthening interventions on NCDs. They were also encouraged to commit some investment. The need to develop partnerships that go beyond the health sector was also noted and the role of the private sectors which should be in line with the spirit of the UN Political Declaration of September 2011.
Read a detailed commentary on the WHO AFRO workshop , including key points for inclusion in the draft action plan, on ehospice Africa.
Call for action and support
The next formal consultation meeting of member states is scheduled for 5 – 7 November in Geneva where regional feedback and further consultation will be shared at the global level – WHO noted it is important for member states to be there and ensure Africa voice is there.
Heads of NCDs in Ministries of Health among Africa member states are likely to require support for the integration of palliative care in their programmes.
As several member states have approached APCA to support their costs to travel to Geneva for the most critical consultation meeting, we at APCA would like to encourage all palliative care advocates, partners and donors to pull together any resources to support representatives from low resource countries that are integrating palliative care to attend these critical meetings.
To help fund this initiative email, firstname.lastname@example.org