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May 24, 2017

Addressing Psoriasis within a comprehensive NCD Response

It is time to recognize that psoriasis is a non-communicable disease, and to recognize IFPA’s long commitment to the more than 125 million people worldwide who live with this severe and often disabling disease.

It is time to include psoriasis in the global response to NCDs. 

As President of the NCD Alliance, I’m delighted to be here.

Since 2009, steered by the International Diabetes Federation, World Heart Federation, International Union for Cancer Control, my own organization—The Union, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Management Science for Health, and the Framework Convention Alliance, the NCD Alliance has united major non-communicable disease prevention and reduction through common goals.

Now that NCDA has become a stand-alone NGO, we gain strength in even greater numbers.

Today, we are a unified network of 2000 civil society organizations in 170 countries, with 50 national and regional alliances.

We are honored to partner with IFPA as one of our NGO supporters.

Fundamentally, we seek to reduce or eliminate the risk factors for NCDs, and to improve treatment.

The World Health Organization’s “4 by 4” approach incorporates four leading diseases: diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disorders, as well as four risk factors: tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.

However, the complete NCD picture is much larger. There are important overlaps with responses required to address psoriasis, mental health, osteoporosis, renal disease, oral health and others.

There is a strong case to consider indoor and outdoor air pollution alongside the four “traditional” NCD risk factors.

A combination of activities designed to impact governance, prevention, management and surveillance will enable us to achieve our shared goals. But only with an expanded understanding of the risks for and scope of NCDs.

Taken together, NCDs cause 70 percent of premature death worldwide and 50 percent of all disability.

More widely, NCDs are a global development issue: their prevalence impedes our ability to reduce poverty, or stabilize economies.

Starting in 2011, many global commitments have increased visibility about NCDs.

This global leadership has been critical in raising awareness about NCDs, and in opening dialogue with important stakeholders in the fight to reduce them.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development solidified the understanding that governments, the private sector, medicine and academia are needed at the table with civil society and the global health leadership of WHO and the UN to effectively address NCDs, and to ensure sustainable development in all areas.

The Agenda has a dedicated target on NCD mortality.

In order to protect and improve health and well being for all the world’s people, it will be necessary to reduce by one-third the premature deaths from NCDs in the next twelve years. 

World Health Organization documented in 2015 that progress on NCDs is lacking.

And the challenges are even more pronounced in low- and middle-income countries, which are often faced with the triple burden of infectious diseases, NCDs and maternal and child health challenges.

Former UN Director Ban Ki-moon made this observation near the end of his term. And sadly, it still holds true.

But in 2017, the NCD Alliance is proud to partner with IFPA and others to build on increased awareness of NCDs to address these gaps, share good practices, and increase capacity for NCD prevention and control worldwide.

This is why the launch of the Global Psoriasis Coalition will be a key factor in accelerating the political response to psoriasis along with other NCDs.

I also extend my congratulations to the IFPA for their accomplishment of bringing psoriasis to the revision of the WHO Global Action Plan on NCDs.

Psoriasis and other NCDs share common risk factors, and often present as co-morbidities.

In particular, having psoriasis increases the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Recent research also reflects a connection between psoriasis and cancer, as well as psoriasis and chronic respiratory disease.

Part of our role is to assist in strengthening health system prevention of NCDs.

Investments in early screening improve quality of life and outcomes for patients with NCDs.

Health professionals should consider screening people living with psoriasis for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, due to their heightened risk of developing these co-morbidities.

However, financing health systems is a major barrier, and an impediment to reducing NCDs worldwide.

If we are to make progress on NCDs, we must reform the allocation of financial resources.

NCDs exert the single greatest disease burden in age-adjusted disability years, as shown here on the right—in the red band—but receive the very least funding for their reduction.

However, the case for investment in NCD prevention and control is clear.
With the cost of inaction at 7 trillion dollars per year, versus 11 billion dollars to implement a set of high-impact interventions recommended by the World Health Organization that are proven to work, there is no choice but doing the right thing.

Now we need to make sure governments get the message.

Strength in numbers is not a new concept. In the NCD landscape, all diseases and conditions will benefit from a collaborative and integrated response to address our shared priorities.

We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the IFPA and all our partners to reduce the grave toll of NCDs worldwide.

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