Wednesday, November 22, 2017

New global health initiative launched to reduce heart attack, stroke deaths

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-09-14 02:09:46 BdST


A new five-year health initiative backed by world’s three biggest philanthropies has been launched to accelerate the progress of reducing deaths from stroke and heart attack in low-and-middle-income countries.

‘Resolve’ led Dr Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former commissioner of the New York City (NYC) Health Department, is aimed at saving 100 million lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes.

This groundbreaking initiative of $225 million is the first to be funded together by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was launched on Tuesday in New York.

It will be implemented by a team of global health experts at Vital Strategies, a New York-based global health organization that works in more than 60 countries including Bangladesh.

“The world’s leading cause of death is largely preventable, and we can’t sit back while people suffer needlessly,” said Michael Bloomberg, in a statement.

He said saving 100 million lives would be an “extraordinary achievement – and it’s within our reach”. “Tom Frieden helped us make unprecedented gains in life expectancy in New York, and he’s the perfect person to lead this global effort.”

Dr Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve, which will be housed at Vital Strategies said there are proven strategies every country can use to prevent deaths from heart disease, stroke, and epidemics – but progress has been “painfully slow”.

“I am deeply grateful to Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting efforts that aim to save more than 100 million lives.”

“Heart attacks and strokes are the world’s leading killers – including of working-age adults. Lessons learned during the Ebola epidemic can reduce the risk of future epidemics. Each intervention is at a tipping point, and these investments will tip the scales in favour of saving lives and protecting health.”

Under Tom Frieden’s direction, the Resolve initiative will help give countries the tools they need to identify and respond to new health threats quickly, said Dr Priscilla Chan, paediatrician and co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

“While our foundation typically focuses on infectious diseases because they disproportionately affect the world’s poorest, we are increasingly concerned about the growing rate of cardiovascular disease in low- and middle-income countries,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“That’s why we are joining forces with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Bloomberg Philanthropies to support the work of Dr Frieden and his team to tackle these twin threats to public health.”

José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vital Strategies, said that they are “honoured” that this new initiative is being housed in Vital Strategies.

The Resolve initiative consists of two programs: Resolve – To Save 100 Million Lives, and Resolve –  To Prevent Epidemics.

Across both programs, the Resolve initiative will employ best practice approaches to monitoring the extent of the problem and progress made, improving the global evidence base, and be providing examples for other countries to follow, amplifying the overall impact of the project.

The focus will be on four key areas to improve capacity and preparedness:

>> Implement and strengthen disease tracking systems – so that unusual event is noticed and investigated.

>> Support laboratory networks – so that new and emerging threats are identified promptly.

>> Develop and support “disease detectives” – epidemiologists to track and investigate diseases and outbreaks.

>> Develop rapid response teams – to investigate and stop outbreaks, working out of functional emergency operations centres which operate under structured, effective incident management systems.