American Heart Association Joins Global Experts at Washington Post Live Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases

October 26, 2012 Categories: Advocacy News
Washington, D.C., Oct. 17, 2012 —American Heart Association Past President Ralph Sacco, M.D., was among 20 experts brought together by Washington Post Live today for “The Check-Up: Non-Communicable Diseases,” a roundtable discussion exploring the global fight against heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.
The forum, sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company and Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies, was an in-depth examination of the challenges faced by the global community to reduce the “tsunami” of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and the progress made since the United Nations High-Level meeting on NCDs one year ago.  
“Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 50 percent of mortality and is the No. 1 cause of death worldwide,” said Dr. Sacco. “We have an unprecedented opportunity to respond to this epidemic with cost effective strategies such as tobacco control and sodium reduction.”
During the panel discussion, Dr. Sacco highlighted the association’s mission to promote ideal CVD health and pointed to Life’s Simple 7 as a possible program that would help individuals in other countries fight back against heart disease and stroke. The removal of full-calorie soft drinks by the beverage industry in the United States was also identified as a successful program spearheaded by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.  
Participants agreed that the key obstacles to addressing NCDs were:  a strong social movement capable of changing the status quo; problematic data and monitoring; a lack of sustained high-level leadership; an inability to prioritize solutions; and an ongoing lack of funding in a time of chronic global austerity.  Even the term, “non-communicable diseases or NCDs” was viewed as confusing and some experts proposed the term be changed to “socio-communicable” diseases given its complexity.
Creating partnerships and strengthening existing ones across the non-profit, private and public sectors along with country ownership of NCDs were cited by the group as promising ways to address this global crisis. Dr. Sacco pointed out that “finding partners on the ground in key countries and focusing on children early in their lifetimes is critical to the success of our mission to curb the rising rate of cardiovascular disease worldwide.”  The association currently collaborates with leading cardiology societies and heart foundations in Brazil, India, and China to hold joint scientific meetings in these countries, build capacity among first responders and lay persons in emergency cardiac care, and support prevention programs that raise public awareness of heart disease and stroke and provide tools to promote heart health.
Contact: Retha Sherrod, (202) 785-7929