Covid-19 Impact on NCDs in Brazil: Focus of the 6th Convening of The Intersectoral Forum to Fight NCDs in Brazil (ForumDCNTs)

On April 29th 2020, the 6th Convening of The Intersectoral Forum to Fight NCDs in Brazil (ForumDCNTs) was, for the first time, online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the globe.  Many ForumDCNTs members, high level decision makers and stakeholders from the public, private and multilateral sectors, and representatives from the main civil society health organizations, including PHI, participated. The discussions ranged from specific actions to improve hypertension care and prevention of obesity and other NCDS, to plans of the Ministry of Health and alignment of the country with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) priorities and initiatives.

The first presentations highlighted how Brazil is leading many countries in reaching most WHO/PAHO target indicators in the fight against Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). In the report released by WHO and PAHO, Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica are the only countries in the Americas that have fully achieved 12 of 19 priority indicators for tackling NCDs, which are  responsible for 71% of early deaths worldwide. Canada follows with reaching 11 indicators and USA with reaching 9 indicators.

Dr. Guy Fones (WHO), shared WHO’s concerns about early deaths due to NCDs that could be prevented.

Despite the achievements, Brazil still needs to deal with several issues to reach the UN 2030 agenda’s goal. Excessive alcohol consumption is still a problem in the face of advertising campaigns and the lack of specific taxation on the products sold. Obesity and unhealthy diet are also critical points.

Dr. Mark Barone, presented preliminary data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with diabetes in Brazil.

During the 6th high level meeting of FórumDCNTs, the Public Health Institute’s Global Health Leaders (GHL) Alumnus, founder and general coordinator of the initiative, Dr. Mark Barone, presented preliminary data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with diabetes in Brazil, with most individuals reporting decrease in physical activity and, as a consequence, worsening in their glycemic control.

Digital health was the path to a response identified by Dr. Ann Aerts, from Novartis Foundation and Cauê Bueno from Hackmed. Dr. Aerts highlighted in her presentation the opportunities for integrating technology in all spheres of health “becoming as essential as hospital beds, since it is used as an empowerment tool for medical teams and patients”.

The COVID-19 pandemic was discussed as an aggravating factor in impeding countries to reduce premature mortality due to NCDs by 1/3, by 2030. Dr. Barone warned about the worsening of the population’s mental health. “The pandemic can serve as a trigger, in cases of predisposition, or lead to relapse of people with depression and anxiety in the face of loneliness, insecurity and fear” said Dr. Barone. According to Dr. Fatima Marinho, Vital Strategies, “it is necessary to prepare, since the peak of cardiovascular events, with an increase in the number of deaths, appears one month after the peak of respiratory syndromes as the one we are experiencing”.

“In recent studies it was shown that COVID-19 can lead to the development of diabetes and induce long-term metabolic changes, therefore, health systems will need to prepare and carefully monitor cardiometabolic conditions of the population affected by the new coronavirus”, concluded Dr. Barone, saying that it is necessary to act today, in addition to optimizing partnerships as is called for in Sustainable Development Goal 17 (SDG 17).

Dr. Ann Aerts from Novartis Foundation highlighted the opportunities for integrating technology in all spheres of health.

More information in Portuguese about the 6th Convening of the ForumDCNTs here.

All videos of the meeting (primarily in Portuguese) available here.

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