During UNGA78, health took center stage with three UN High-Level Meetings (HLM) focusing on critical areas: universal health coverage (UHC), pandemic preparedness, prevention, and response (PPPR), and tuberculosis. The World Stroke Organization (WSO) was actively represented throughout the event by President Sheila Martins, Past-President Bo Norrving, and Executive Director Mia Grupper. The week was marked by an array of high-level meetings and significant developments.
Below is a summary of the key events:
September 20: A landmark declaration on "Strengthening High-level International Coordination to Improve Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, Response" was approved. Leading up to this meeting, WSO and its partners urged member states to include the following priorities in the declaration:
Increasing domestic resources to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs), especially cardiovascular disease (CVD), through measures like taxing unhealthy commodities.
Ensuring access to essential health services across the care continuum during emergencies, with a focus on circulatory, eye, and oral health care.
Strengthening the NCD component of PPPR efforts through endorsement in a WHO convention or international instrument.
In 2021, WSO and its coalition partners published a White Paper on Pandemic Preparedness and Circulatory Health.
Figure 1S Martins attending the UN High Level meeting on Pandemic Preparedness
September 21: World leaders at the high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage committed to scaling up efforts to achieve "Health for All" by approving a new political declaration. Although the declaration had some limitations regarding addressing inequalities and recognizing vulnerable groups, including those with NCDs, it marked a significant milestone for global health. WSO will continue its advocacy efforts, calling on governments to:
Include stroke in National NCD plans.
Implement integrated strategies to reduce stroke risk factors and the disease burden.
Plan and deliver effective acute stroke care services, including stroke units and reperfusion therapy
Figure 2 M. Grupper at the UN High Level meeting on UHC
4. An important side event featured the launch of the first-ever WHO Global Report on Hypertension. This report serves as a roadmap for countries to diagnose, treat, and control hypertension, contributing to SDG 3.4. By 2050, achieving blood pressure control in less than 50% of the population is expected to prevent 76 million deaths from heart diseases and stroke. Key speakers included Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, Bente Mikkelsen, Director NCD, WHO, Michael Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies and Tom Frieden, CEO RESOVE for lives.
Figure 3S. Martins, B. Norrving and M. Grupper at the launch of the Global report on Hypertension
Figure 4 Launch of the Global report on Hypertenstion in New York
5. WSO co-organized a side event with members of the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health, focusing on integrating circulatory health into UHC packages to strengthen health systems. S. Martins was one of the speakers at this event that highlighted the critical, cross-cutting role that circulatory disease and NCD prevention need to play in contributing to sustainable development during and after the pandemic as countries work towards UHC, as outlined in the recent position paper of the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health. During the event positive examples of the inclusion of fiscal tools and Best Buy measures, such as tobacco control and diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, in both pandemic preparedness measures and UHC country packages were shared.
Figure 5 S. Martins addressing at the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health event on UHC in New York
Throughout the week, there were several other side meetings and bilateral discussions with key stakeholders. It is inspiring to witness the growing prominence of stroke on the global health agenda, reflecting our collective commitment to improving global health outcomes.
This summary provides a concise overview of WSO's engagement at UNGA78 and its continued dedication to advancing NCD’s including stroke and addressing global health challenges.
Achieving our vision of a life free from stroke is a task that WSO cannot achieve alone. We are committed to building our partnerships at the global, regional and national level to scale up and deliver improvements in prevention, treatment and support to reduce the burden of stroke.