To a standing-room only audience atop McCann Worldgroup headquarters in New York City, Access Accelerated hosted a special UN General Assembly side event with multisector leaders working to tackle non-communicable diseases around the world. The event began with an interactive marketplace where nine Access Accelerated member companies–Astellas, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, Shionogi and Daiichi-Sankyo–showcased NCD access programs that address the deadliest NCDs like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Following the marketplace, Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar moderated a two-part speaker program. First, an engaging conversation with global cancer advocate and President-Elect of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), Her Royal Highness Dina Mired of Jordan. Princess Dina shared her personal story about why she became an advocate and detailed her work to establish cancer treatment in Jordan and beyond. Next, a second panel brought a diverse range of health professionals to the stage, including leading voices from the frontline of health care delivery, as well as the advocacy and programmatic levels, to discuss the challenges and opportunities to NCD care in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The evening’s conversation touched on several significant, cross-cutting themes:
Focus on both short-term wins and long-term gains
Princess Dina shared the story of a man who pointed out that in his country, there were no oncologists. Her pragmatic approach, which was critical in her tireless efforts to build the King Hussein Cancer Center in Jordan, became evident. She encouraged the man to leverage the short-term fix of using mobile diagnosis while working to train more doctors in the country. It is this mix of identifying short-term solutions and long-term capacity building that will drive progress in countries around the world.
Local engagement–with patients, healthcare workers and governments–is an imperative
UICC’s Dr. Susan Henshall and the Novartis Foundation’s Dr. Ann Aerts agreed on this point. Dr. Aerts noted that, while it might take longer to start a program, engaging local communities ultimately makes for a more effective program by addressing the real needs of patients and communities. Dr. Henshall discussed how the UICC C/CAN 2025 City Challenge brought people together and once they were really talking, they could pinpoint – and solve – community-specific barriers.
Begin with the country context
Professor Angelica Samudio, Dr. Chite Asirwa and Gomathi Kaliappan discussed specific programs in Paraguay, Kenya and India, respectively. Professor Samudio is the coordinator for My Child Matters, a project of Sanofi Espoir Foundations. She stressed the need to understand that it is not just public health challenges facing patients, but also the stress of poverty. Solutions, therefore, must be comprehensive and multifaceted. Dr. Asirwa is the Medical Co-Director of the AMPATH Oncology and Hematology Program. He discussed the need to address a critical barrier to NCD care–first, educating patients about cancer and its symptoms, and to encourage them to seek medical care quickly. Ms. Kaliappan, Project Lead for Roche India’s Blue Tree Oncology Patient Support Program, was asked why a company would not just donate funds. She responded that company involvement is vital to addressing real problems, understanding the patient journey, seeing the barriers and working with others to overcome challenges and provide NCD treatment and care.
Throughout the evening, Access Accelerated reinforced its commitment to public-private partnerships while thoughtful and engaging representatives shared ideas on best approaches and lessons learned. United Nations Foundation CEO and President Kathy Calvin closed the event by summarizing the powerful opportunity for initiatives like Access Accelerated:
- Industry-wide partnerships (particularly ambitious ones) are critical to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. “Business as usual” won’t get us there.
- While multi-sectoral partnerships are by no means new, they are being designed more strategically and the alliance behind Access Accelerated is a powerful one.
- In embracing a health issue responsible for 38 million deaths a year, Access Accelerated has taken on a lot of responsibility–and potential.
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