The NCD Problem - Now What?

Todays' conference with Washington Post Live on non-communicable diseases was intriguing on a number of levels. The speakers -- from keynote Ala Alwan, director-general of non-communicable diseases at the World Health Organization to Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus of the Pan American Health Organization -- provided keen insight into the depth of the global problem and the urgent need for solutions.

But now, the big question: what happens next?

Today's discussion was a valuable starting point, but we're much closer to the beginning than a conclusion Another big milestone occurs next week when the United Nations holds its meeting focusing on potential solutions to the global NCD tragedy. As many of the panelists (including Alleyne and Nerissa Cook, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State) said during today's panel discussions, greater visibility via media coverage and thought-leader conversations will be a critical step. The U.N. is expected to issue a declaration that will put NCDs front-and-center with governments around the globe -- creating better opportunities for funding and access to treatment.

Once the U.N. meeting wraps up, a team effort is going to be paramount: private companies like Lilly, governments, and private citizens all will have a role. Mark Kramer, managing director at FSG and a senior fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, reinforced the corporate role in finding solutions. In fact, Kramer said, "Medical companies are beginning to see themselves as brokering solutions."

That's why Lilly on Tuesday announced the NCD Partnership. Our $30 million commitment will not eradicate NCDs, but it's a starting point in countries that need help like India and Mexico. And when more than 60 percent of global deaths are due to NCDs like diabetes and cancer, a starting point is critical.