The following article was written by Denilson Oliveira, a journalist based in São Paulo, Brazil.
Leaders and authorities from the public, private and philanthropic sectors met for the second time on May 15, 2018 in Espaço França, São Paulo as part of the Intersectoral Forum to Fight NCDs in Brazil. Through sharing knowledge and pooling resources, they continued to work towards solving the issues of chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in Brazil.
Mark Barone, Global Health Leaders (GHL) Fellow, was the opening speaker for the event. “The goal of the forum is to form partnerships among different sectors, which is seen as the only way to solve public health issues related to NCDs in Brazil,” Barone said.
During his presentation, Barone addressed the set of “17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” proposed by the United Nations to be achieved globally by 2030. According to Barone, two points in the international document are especially relevant to the NCDs Forum:
- By 2030, reduce premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases through prevention and treatment by one third, and promote mental health and well-being (SDG 3.4); and
- Encourage and promote effective public, private-public and civil society partnerships based on the experience of the resource mobilization strategies of these partnerships (SDG 17.7).
Additionally, he presented a general overview of chronic NCDs in Brazil. In 1990, NCDs accounted for 59.6% of deaths in the country. Today, the same index has risen to 75.8%. However, we have identified the areas where we can concentrate our efforts to lower this percentage: “The main risk factors for premature death related to chronic diseases in Brazil are modifiable, notably unhealthy eating, sedentary lifestyle and abusive use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.”
Throughout the day, other speakers also reinforced the importance of these partnerships for both public health and the fight against NCDs. “It is possible to improve the Brazilian health system with the increasingly decisive participation of the three sectors,” said Sandro José Martins, General Coordinator of the Ministry of Health’s specialized care. As an example, he cited the Popular Pharmacy program, a partnership with networks of pharmacies throughout Brazil which distributes medicines free of charge. “This project was developed to improve access to medicines in our country and now reaches 80% of Brazilian municipalities.”
Richard Blumel, Manager of Government Relations at CIES Global, spoke about the partnership held with the City Hall of São Paulo during the Doctor Health program. “The city of São Paulo originally had a waiting list of 417 thousand exams. When the mayor João Dória Júnior’s administration took charge of City Hall, our challenge was to reduce this number to zero. We were able to reach our goal with the use of itinerant health carts, made with a container structure.”
Among the partner institutions, Abrale, Plan International, ADJ Diabetes Brasil, The Federal University of Bahia, Novartis Foundation, Alianza Latina, Associação Brasileira de Hipercolesterolemia Familiar (AHF), Medtronic and ITMS presented inter- and multi-sectoral programs that have transformed health in Brazil. ITMS, in particular, presented a program called LATIN that clearly demonstrates how partnerships can have a decisive impact on health outcomes. LATIN (Latin America Telemedicine Infarct Network), also present in Colombia and Mexico, connects more than 200 centers and has treated more than 3,180 infarcts since April 2014. In addition to the health secretariats, hospitals and health units, the program collects data within the partnership between ITMS, Lumen Foundation, and Medtronic. In the city of Guarulhos, for example, after only two months of implementation of the project, mortality from myocardial infarction fell from 25% to 7.2%.