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In a continued commitment to help reduce the global burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the Medtronic Foundation is making a $435,000 grant to Partners in Health (PIH) to work with the Rwandan Ministry of Health to establish a team of NCD experts that will assist low-income countries in preparing National NCD Plans by 2013, a goal set by the United Nations following the 2011 High-Level Meeting on NCDs.
The effort will build on a successful model of NCD care integration developed by the Rwandan Ministry of Health together with PIH and other partners. Rwanda is a leader in health sector planning, having developed a number of novel initiatives, including a community-based mutual health insurance program, universal access to antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS, performance-based financing, and eHealth. These efforts have made Rwanda the only country in Africa on track to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals, and an experienced leader among other low- to middle-income countries.
“The next generation of global solidarity must be more strategic, more efficient, and more country-driven,” says Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health of Rwanda. “We have much work to do in creating a future in which the greatest risk factor for dying of a noncommunicable disease is not where one is born.”
Worldwide, an estimated 36 million people died from NCDs in 2008, nearly 80 percent of them living in low- and middle-income countries.
“There is no reason that poorer nations can’t address these health burdens. But they will need all kinds of support,” says Dr. Paul Farmer, PIH co-founder and chief strategist. “We hope that Rwanda can offer a starting point, help develop blueprints for fulfilling an essential part of a fundamental human right.”
In the first year, the team, called the NCD Synergies Unit, will work with two low-income African countries, with plans to add four more countries in the second year, including two non-African countries. Countries will be selected through an application process.