Aerial view of committee discussions on the closing day of the Seventy-first World Health Assembly © WHO/A.Tardy

South East Asia Regional Alliance call on WHO SEARO to fund research and focus responses on COVID-19 and NCDs

16th September 2020

The 73rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for South East Asia Region was held virtually from 9-10th of September 2020. As part of the post-World Health Assembly regional advocacy efforts, the South East Asia Regional NCD Alliance (SEAR NCDA) supported the statement led by the World Heart Federation in response to agenda item 9.5 on "Expanding the scope of the South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund."

The statement aimed to call on member states to fund research and focused responses to the relationship between COVID-19 and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), especially circulatory conditions, in public, private, and civil society contexts. The statement is available here.

Furthermore, on the occasion of the Regional Committee meeting, an official statement was developed and released by SEAR NCDA. The statement was focused around the need to adopt people-centred health service delivery mechanisms; access to quality treatment, care and support; financial risk protection through UHC to cover out of pocket expenses, in light of the challenges being posed by COVID-19 pandemic to NCD prevention, treatment and care prioritization within country contexts. The statement was released on September 10, 2020.

This statement was released simultaneously across the member nations through the national level NCD alliances. Widespread attention to this statement was provided through social media. As September 10th was world suicide prevention day, several member organisations organised programs to create awareness as well sensitise the issue. Along with this, the needs and challenges posed by COVID-19 to NCDs including mental health issues were highlighted to public, stakeholders and members of civil societies. 

The statements were shared with health policy makers to highlight the plight of people living with NCDs (PLWNCDs) during COVID-19. As part of the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund on NCDs and COVID-19, the extent of the impact on NCD services in member nations in the region are now being studied.