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Addressing noncommunicable diseases in the WHO African region

25 Aug 2022

This is a statement made at the 72nd Session of the World Health Organization RCM for the AFRO Region on Agenda item 7: PEN-Plus – A regional strategy to address severe noncommunicable diseases at first-level referral health facilities (Document AFR/RC72/4 and Document AFR/RC72/WP2)

The endorsement of a PEN-Plus strategy for the African Region would be a momentous step forward in the fight against NCDs on the continent, and the World Heart Federation is pleased to lend its full support to its adoption and implementation.

Severe NCDs cause 800,000 deaths every year among the world’s poorest children and young adults, more than 90% of whom live in rural and peri-urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Yet 70% of these deaths are avoidable, making an extremely strong case for targeted action. Providing access to integrated PEN-Plus services would greatly reduce the burden of avoidable death and suffering among children and young adults with conditions like sickle cell disease, type 1 diabetes, rheumatic and congenital heart disease, and other severe chronic diseases. The proposed PEN-Plus strategy will also contribute to the strengthening of primary care systems and provide critical assistance to one of the most neglected populations; those who have become even more vulnerable due to the pandemic. Finally, this strategy can help countries and communities address the largest gap in financing for universal health coverage (UHC) for the poorest billion.

We thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this discussion and stand ready to facilitate the implementation of the PEN-Plus strategy in the AFRO region