44 nations convened at the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2017 to discuss progress towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The HLPF is the main UN body that provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development, and addresses follow up and review of progress on the implementation of commitments. Member States agreed that the HLPF would be the central body to monitor and review all progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Multiple stakeholders including UN Agencies, Ministers, Cabinet Secretaries, academic experts and high profile non-governmental organizations such as Global NeuroCare attended the HLPF to advise the delegates on the most effective means of advancing the Agenda.
Non-governmental organizations must have valid UN ECOSOC accreditation to attend. Global NeuroCare holds Special Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC, is accredited by the World Health Organization and affiliated with the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.
Drs. James C. Johnston and Mehila Zebenigus presented recommendations on behalf of Global NeuroCare, focusing on the relationship between non-communicable diseases such as neurological conditions and poverty, and how improving access to neurological care will result in poverty reduction, thereby increasing economic, social and political stability in developing nations.
They highlighted the importance of increasing the recruitment, training and retention of local medical staff in the developing countries as the most practical means of capacity building to combat the non-communicable diseases. This requires establishing self-sufficient local training programs, an approach Global NeuroCare supports in Ethiopia through the Addis Ababa University Department of Neurology. These types of training centers require collaboration with the North, and Drs. Zebenigus and Johnston focused on the significance of formulating guidelines to ethically advance North-South partnerships and protect the inherently vulnerable populations of the least developed nations. (E/2017/NGO/16).
This second HLPF presentation followed statements by Dr. James C. Johnston to the Commission for Social Development (E/CN.5/2017/NGO/19) and the Integration Segment (Statement 11603), demonstrating that the neurological disorders are a cross-cutting issue requiring attention and integration with non-health sectors. This is a crucial point since Member States must recognize that addressing neurological diseases will not only improve healthcare (SDG 3) but also stimulate economic growth (SDG 8), promote poverty eradication (SDG 1), eliminate harmful practices (SDG 5.3) and encourage scientific research (SDG 9.5). This new integrated approach is essential to attain the 2030 Agenda goal of reducing premature mortality due to non-communicable diseases (SDG Target 3.4), and funding should be allocated accordingly with particular attention to the priority of addressing neurological conditions.
Drs. Johnston and Zebenigus will be discussing the potential for co-benefit solutions addressing neurological disorders and other developmental priorities such as access to safe water and food security at the 2018 HLPF which has a thematic approach of transformation towards sustainable societies.