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Global NCD Alliance Launches New Civil Society Solidarity Fund in Response to COVID-19

Media Release From CANSA on behalf of The South African Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (SA NCD Alliance)

Monday 13 July 2020, South Africa – 20 civil society alliances in mainly low- and middle-income countries, including the South African Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance, were awarded grants to accelerate the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants, made by the first Civil Society Solidarity Fund on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) and COVID-19, were announced today by the global NCD Alliance during a high-level online event. #ActOnNCDs #NCDvoices #COVID19

Todd Harper, President of the global NCD Alliance, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic shows many intersections between COVID-19 and NCDs. People living with NCDs are more vulnerable to COVID-19, with a substantially higher risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the virus. The pandemic also impacts the poorest communities around the world and the most vulnerable people in every country. The civil society solidarity fund was born out of the need to tackle NCDs as fundamental to health security and to prevent a reversal of gains made in NCDs prevention and control around the world”.

The fund, totalling $300,000, competitively awarded grants of up to US$15,000 to national and regional NCD alliances. The purpose of the grants is to support alliances to address the critical needs of people living with NCDs during COVID-19 via advocacy and communication activities that will support stronger organisational stability and resilience.

Dr Vicki Pinkney-Atkinson, Director of SA NCDs Alliance, states: “Until the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the inequitable fault lines in the health system, NCDs+ are a neglected priority in South Africa. In South Africa, 99% of the people who have died because of COVID-19 are those of us living with NCDs+. The funding is a cause for celebration in an otherwise dark time with record daily number of new infections and deaths. It will allow the participation of people living with NCDs+ to building back a better health system with equity for NCDs prevention and treatment. We can work alongside the government to ensure that NCDs public health plans are equal to those for HIV and meet our needs.”

Katie Dain, CEO of NCD Alliance, added: “This is a first-of-its-kind fund to support NCD civil society organisations (CSOs) response to COVID-19. During pandemics, momentum in several health and sustainable development issues, notably HIV/AIDS, Ebola and climate change, have repeatedly reinforced the critical role of CSOs and community-led efforts in accelerating action from local to global levels. Civil society are proven campaigners, change agents, experts, implementers and watchdogs”.

The millions of South Africans living with NCDs+ are a critical at-risk, vulnerable group during COVID-19. No community is spared from the impacts of COVID-19 or NCDs, affecting rich and poor alike. The COVID-19 pandemic, despite its huge negative impact, offer a policy window of opportunity to work together to build a better health system and society free from the preventable suffering, disability, and death caused by NCDs.

The NCD Alliance Civil Society Solidarity Fund on NCDs and COVID-19 is possible thanks to generous financial contributions of global NCD Alliance’s supporters: The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Access Accelerated, Takeda, AstraZeneca and Upjohn (Pfizer). The Fund received 45 submissions from national and regional alliances across all regions, which were reviewed by a selection committee. The Fund recognises the essential work of NCD advocates, which now becomes even more critical than ever to ensure political and media attention to the needs of people living with NCDs as one of the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19.

The recipients of the Civil Society Solidarity Fund are from Africa, Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Latin America: ACT Promoção da Saúde (ACT Health Promotion – Brazil); Alianza ENT Uruguay (NCD Alliance Uruguay); Alliance MNT Benin; Bangladesh NCDS Forum; Burundi NCD Alliance; Cambodian NCD Alliance; Cameroon Civil Society NCD Alliance; Coalition MNT-Togo; East Africa NCD Alliance; Healthy Caribbean Coalition; Healthy Latin American Coalition; Healthy Philippines Alliance; Jordan NCD Alliance; NCD Alliance Nigeria; Slovenian NCD Alliance; South African NCDs Alliance; South East Asia Regional NCD Alliance; Trinidad and Tobago NCD Alliance; UK Working Group on NCDs and Zambia NCD Alliance.

For more information, please contact Dr Vicki Pinkney-Atkinson, Director of SA NCD Alliance at email Call 083 38 38-159. Alternate contact is Lucy Balona, Head: Marketing and Communication at CANSA at email Call 011 616 7662 or mobile 082 459 5230.

About NCDs+

NCDs are a large group of health conditions that are generally not spread from person to person and used to be called chronic illness until 2000 when the Millennium Develop Goals force a new definition. Often the 5 main NCDs groups of conditions are noted: diabetes, circulatory disorders, mental health, cancer, and chronic respiratory illnesses. However, there are many more conditions that do not get a mention. Globally NCDs conditions are responsible for 41 million deaths annually and they are leading cause of death in South Africa since 2013. Diabetes is the leading cause of death of South African women.

However, the NCDs agenda is not just about illness it goes to a whole of society and whole of government response and for this we need an expanded understanding, meaning, NCDs+. The expanded NCDs+ advocacy agenda includes prevention, vulnerable populations, stigma control and disability. NCDs+ has many determinants (social, economic, and commercial) that disproportionately impact poor people. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address NCDs+ and its inclusion as an equal part of universal health coverage. (National Health Insurance in South Africa).

About the SA NCDs Alliance

The SA NCDs Alliance, established in 7 years ago, is a civil society partnership between three trusted NCDs advocacy organisations: CANSA, Diabetes SA, Heart and Stroke Foundation SA.

Its mission is for the people of South Africa have equitable access to quality NCDs+ prevention and management within universal health coverage/ NHI.

For this important COVID-19 and NCDs+ advocacy project nearly 90 civil society organisations are collaborating:

The SA NCDs Alliance’s goal in this programme it to ensure that the policy window of opportunity opened by the COVID-19 pandemic is used to make NCDs a priority in government policy through collaboration with NCDs civil society to put it on a par with HIV & TB.

About the Global NCD Alliance

¹Cancer Alliance South Africa incorporating:

amaBele Project Flamingo, Ari’s Cancer Foundation, Breast Course 4 Nurses (BCN), Breast Health Foundation (BHF)Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), Cancer Heroes, CanSurvive Cancer Support (CanSurvive), Care for Cancer Foundation, Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa (CHOC), Gladiators of Hope, Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA), Look Good Feel Better (LGFB), Love Your Nuts (LYN), Lymphoedema Association of South Africa (LAOSA), Men’s Foundation, National Council Against Smoking, National Oncology Nursing Society of SA (NONSA), People Living With Cancer (PLWC), Pink Parasol Project, Pink Trees for Pauline (Pink Trees). Rainbows and Smiles, Reach for Recovery (R4R), South African Oncology Social Workers’ Forum (SAOSWF), The Sunflower Fund (TSF), Wings of Hope (who)

² South African Disability Alliance incorporating 21 disability civils society groups:

Autism South Africa, Blind SA, Cheshire Homes SA, Dementia SA, Disabled Children’s Action Group (DICAG), Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA), Epilepsy South Africa, Muscular Dystrophy Foundation SA (MDSA), National Association of Persons with Cerebral Palsy (NAPCP), National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa (OTASA), Quad Para Association of South Africa (QASA), Quadriplegic & Paraplegic Charitable Trust – South Africa; South African Association of Audiologists (SAAA), South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH), South African National Association of Blind and Partially Sighted Persons (SANABP); South African National Deaf Association (SANDA), The Leprosy Mission Southern Africa/RampUp, Uhambo Foundation / Shonaquip, Stroke Survivor’s Foundation (SSF)

³Federation for Mental Health of South Africa incorporating 17 mental health societies:

Port Elizabeth Mental Health, Mpumalanga Mental Health, Vaal Triangle, Cape Mental Health, Northern Free State, Uitenhange Mental Health, Durban and Coastal, North Gauteng Mental Health, Pietermaritzburg Mental Health, Limpopo Mental Health, Rehab Mental Health, Zululand Mental Health, Central Gauteng Mental Health, Laudium Mental Health, North West Mental Health, Southern Free State, Northern Cape Mental Health

The global NCD Alliance is a unique civil society network of 2,000 organisations in 170 countries, dedicated to improving NCD prevention and control worldwide. Our network includes NCDA members, national and regional NCD alliances, scientific and professional associations, and academic and research institutions. Together with strategic partners, including WHO, the UN and governments, NCDA is transforming the global fight against NCDs.

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