ACC Past President William Zoghbi, MD, MACC, ACC Population Health Policy and Health Promotion Committee Chair Gerard Martin, MD, FACC, and International Affairs Director Neal Kovach, represented ACC at the first-ever Global NCD Alliance Forum this past week in Sharjah, UAE. The event, coordinated by the NCD Alliance, a global coalition of thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), brought together a burgeoning group of regional and national NCD alliances that have sprung up all around the world to improve prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Included in these is the NCD Roundtable, a U.S.-based coalition that advocates to the U.S. government about global health policy, in which the College is an active member.
The event in Sharjah brought together a unique group of global health stakeholders including NGO representatives, infectious disease experts, World Health Organization (WHO) representatives and, most importantly, the front-line doctors and volunteers trying to build capacity across the world to better coordinate efforts around NCDs to achieve the WHO goal of a 25 percent reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025 (25×25), which the ACC has formally endorsed. (Read the Sharjah Declaration on NCDs here).
From the ACC perspective, the forum was very timely given the College’s Board of Trustees will meet next month around a formal Population Health strategy developed by ACC’s Population Health Policy and Health Promotion Committee over the last several months. “NCDs account for almost 70 percent of deaths worldwide and the vast majority of premature deaths from NCDs take place in low- and middle-income countries,” notes Martin. “This meeting helped raise awareness of the devastating effects of these diseases and allowed the global community to come together and discuss how to lower the NCD burden.”
Martin and Zoghbi had the privilege of speaking during the forum. Zoghbi spoke during a session focusing on “twinning” partnerships between high income and low income countries. The College was able to highlight the work done in concert with its 35 international chapters, including live educational programs that currently reach over 20,000 doctors per year where they live and practice outside of the U.S. Martin spoke about the “Power of Partnerships” in the last session of the meeting and highlighted new innovative efforts such as ACC’s Diabetes Collaborative Registry which recently expanded to 13 nations in the Asia Pacific region.
There has been exciting progress in population health across many sectors within the ACC over the past few years. A number of U.S. states that have adopted the 25×25 goal within their communities are implementing prevention and treatment programs to help to close gaps in care. At the same time, ACC has been recognized for its partnership in helping to catalyze efforts in global health through its 50,000 global members. Partners such as the World Heart Federation and NCD Alliance have been the drivers of these efforts with the College providing support and leveraging its vast global membership to drive efforts on the ground.
Participating in the forum reminded the ACC delegation of the words of renowned cardiothoracic surgeon Devy Shetty, MD, FACC, who said: “I believe that we can disassociate the wealth of a nation from the quality of its health care.” Moving forward, the ACC is committed to living this message inside and outside of the U.S. Severe inequity persists in our communities, states, country, and world. Anything less than an unrelenting drive to close these gaps to give equal treatment for patients no matter their socioeconomic status is a disservice to the mission and goals of the College. Being part of the Global NCD Alliance Forum only reinforces the importance of these efforts.
Zoghbi says it best: “Heart disease touches every corner of the globe and is the No. 1 killer in the world. Working in partnership with the NCD community allows the ACC to offer its expertise while also gaining knowledge from other stakeholders. This is a fight taking place at every level of communities and we look forward to working together to create a healthier world.”