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European Health Forum Gastein 2015

Every year, 16 million people under the age of 70 die from NCDs therefore World Health Organisation (WHO) changed its priorities from communicable to non-communicable diseases. Now Diabetes, respiratory diseases, heart diseases and cancer are in the focus. Europe is strongly affected by non-communicable diseases. “These diseases are increasing and they are responsible for 86 per cent of all deaths and 77 per cent of patient costs in the European region” explained Oleg Chestnov (Assistant Director-General, NCD and Mental Health, WHO) at the European Health Forum Gastein 2015. The WHO Assistant Director-General pointed out that the private sector and investors also need to join the fight against non-communicable diseases. Chestnov warned people that in the debate surrounding NCDs we must not forget about developing countries. Support also needs to be offered to those patients in the world’s poorest countries. Four out of five of these deaths occur in developing countries. That means that also for these countries NCDs represent one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. There are more and more calls from doctors for greater investments in NCDs. First Ladies in Africa are demanding for more money to fight against cancer on their continent. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda recommends promoting financing and engagement from the private sector in addressing NCDs. But also a better cooperation between organizations like WHO-GARD (Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases), World Heart Federation and International Diabetes Organizations has to be organized. The question – “Where to start the dialogue with the private sector” ” lead to a lively discussion with the audience. Industry representatives addressed the problem of mistrust and distrust towards pharmaceutical industry. A representative of the Corruption Network stated that his organization does not trust tobacco, pharma and alcohol industry at all. Another voice from the audience noted that mistrust and distrust are consequences of the lack of dialogue. There was an agreement that conditions for Public Private Partnership (PPP) are needed for financing NCDs: The solution needs to come from governments but not without the help of civil society and the involvement of the private sector. Stop fighting – start collaborating. Work with associations, not single companies. The process must be transparent. Set the same goals for all parties. All involved in the debate agreed that these conditions are obvious, but very difficult to realize.

Fink-Wagner, PhD
EHFG 2015; Oktober 2015

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