The COVID-19 pandemic has created a seismic upheaval in global health care and individual health testing and treatment. Previous gains in reducing life-threatening chronic diseases are being eroded by the need to turn attention and resources to the pandemic. It feels like a “Snakes and Ladders” board game: The counter has landed on the head of a snake and programs for other diseases have slid to the bottom of the board, landing many years behind.
A version of this post originally appeared on FHI 360’s R&E Search for Evidence blog.
Known around the world, Prof. Peter Lamptey is a global health champion in any light. Many of you may know him from his early involvement in the global HIV response or from his fight to raise public awareness of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). I first heard Prof. Lamptey speak about the role of laboratory science in the NCD response at a conference plenary hosted by the African Society for Laboratory Medicine, my former employer. A compelling talk for sure, but notably his plenary was also my first significant introduction to FHI 360’s research.
In 2013, The Network of African Science Academies, in collaboration with the United States National Academies, convened a committee of 16 diverse experts, including me, to discuss the current state of tobacco use, prevention and control policies in Africa.
The committee’s findings, recently published in Preventing a Tobacco Epidemic in Africa, were alarming: Without comprehensive tobacco prevention and control policies, smoking prevalence in Africa will increase by nearly 39 percent by 2030, from 15.8 percent in 2010 to 21.9 percent. While tobacco use and tobacco-attributable mortality rates in Africa are currently among the lowest in the world, data indicate that without intervention, this situation will change dramatically for the worse.
The committee’s report also revealed some startling findings about tobacco as it relates to Africa’s women and youth. Though fewer African women smoke, they are disproportionately affected by tobacco through not only the direct effects of smoking, but also secondhand smoking and the secondary effect of smoking on pregnant women and their fetuses. African youth, meanwhile, represent the largest potential market for tobacco, and levels of smoking in this highly vulnerable population will continue to rise as aggressive tobacco marketing encourages the uptake of smoking. Both women and youth are also targets of covert messaging from the tobacco industry that is designed to mainstream smoking behavior as an element of evolving social norms and empowerment.
Read the remainder of the blog here.
On April 15, 2014, FHI 360 and its partners hosted a one-day symposium to discuss challenges and opportunities faced by the noncommunicable diseases (NCD) and HIV/AIDS global communities. Our co-host was the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases. Other collaborators were the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the University College London (UCL) Grand Challenge of Global Health. FHI 360 experts who spoke include:
- Peter Lamptey, MD, DrPH, MPH, Distinguished Scientist and President Emeritus
- Timothy Mastro, MD, DTM&H, Director, Global Health, Population and Nutrition
- Tricia Petruney, MA, Senior Technical Officer
- Kwasi Torpey, MD, PhD, MPH, Technical Director, Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services, Nigeria
View the presentations from the symposium to hear our experts’ and partners’ perspectives on how these different disease communities can work together for more common, efficient and cost-effective strategies in the prevention and control of NCDs and HIV.