This past November, You’re the Cure advocate and stroke survivor, Michelle Ballasiotes, had the privilege of attending the Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance Global Forum in Sharjah, UAE. Michelle represented the AHA/ASA and her mom joined her on this experience of a lifetime. Over the next few weeks we will be posting a multi-part series of Michelle’s reflections on the trip. Many thanks to Michelle for writing about her experience and allowing us to share it on the blog! Check back next week to read more about Michelle’s trip! Missed a week? You can find the earlier posts about her trip here, here, and here.
Sat. Nov. 14th, Morning:
Meetings started at 9:00 a.m. with a very useful formalized networking session where we sat with other delegates to discuss an overview of non-communicable diseases and a road map for implementation. Next was a Coffee Connect session, which was basically an informal session to meet some of the other delegates. We then moved on to the opening ceremonies with Her Highness Shiekha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi attending, although we weren’t allowed to take photos of her. Her husband, His Royal Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi spoke and we could take photos of him. We had headphones that we could put on to have His Royal Highness’ speech translated in English or Spanish. I am very thankful for Her Highness for hosting this conference for us all to come together. She is the founder of the Friends of Cancer Patients and has been committed to the fight against cancer and NCDs locally as well as globally.
Afterwards we had a plenary session and four workshops: Integrating NCDs into National Development Plans and Frameworks, Prioritizing Prevention in National NCD Responses, Leveraging Universal Health Coverage for NCDs, and Advancing Effective Multisectoral Action for NCDs. We could only attend one workshop and I was assigned to the Prevention one, which I thought was very informative. We discussed how the determinants of NCDs are tobacco use, obesity, alcoholism, and sedentarism.
I learned lots of things about countries all over the world. NCDs affect the poorest countries the most and those are the people who aren’t getting the care they need. Perhaps for lower income countries, we need to focus on human rights first and then accountability. In Mexico, because there is little access to purified drinking water in some areas, children would bring soda to drink which contributes to obesity. A lady from India spoke describing a policy she helped get her country to ratify regarding tobacco because she noticed tobacco was becoming glorified. It took her 5 years to have captions at the bottom of scenes in movies saying that the movie does not promote the use of tobacco and that tobacco can cause cancer. I found it very interesting and it made me want to try and do something like that in the U.S.! Also, in the Philippines, the tobacco tax was raised to directly fund universal health care. Finally, we discussed how there are higher rates of cancer in areas with poor air quality and pollution. (To be continued…)
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