Sandeep Kishore, President of the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network and a public health physician at Yale University is asking all of you:
How can we address the huge gap between producing knowledge for NCD management and ensuring that this knowledge is accessible and translated into action, at the policy, practice, and grassroots level?
Here, let me push. And if I may, dig a little bit deeper.
I would like refer back to Dr. Richard Horton’s framing of the NCD issue in the 12th December issue of the Lancet that Dr. Bente Mikkelsen highlighted on the opening of this Forum. Following the Dialogue, Dr. Horton highlights gaps in the ability to communicate - to frame the NCD issue — as one of social justice:
"The central failure has been to convince governments that NCDs represent a threat to their present and future security. NCDs are not Ebola. They don’t kill millions of children. And there is no civil society movement demanding government action. NCDs are “lifestyle diseases,” driven by the products of legal (if not loved) multinational corporations. They are by-products of our freedoms, unfortunate but inevitable consequences of human advance. The global health community needs to tell a different story about NCDs. It is struggling to do so. Yet that story is inspiring if only it could be told passionately and without the obfuscating technical baggage that saps the commitment of even the most committed of ministers...
...But where is the anger and the activism in response to its own diagnosis of a “global scandal”? Where is the urgency? Where are the Presidents and Prime Ministers corralled by WHO to lead nations in their fight against NCDs? The NCD movement is too quiet, too pedestrian and too polite to make the impact it deserves. It has allowed process to kill action. I sat in the UN General Assembly in 2011 with friends from WHO and saw their sense of achievement for at last getting NCDs onto the global political agenda. That moment should have been the beginning, not the end. The NCD community needs an electric shock to its semi-comatose soul. But who has the courage to deliver it?"
This analysis gave me great pause. It gave me pause because there is — to me — some strong truth in his assessment. And I could not help but ask four questions: What, Why, Who and How?
What is the story that we articulate at the policy, practice and grassroots level? What is the story we are currently telling? And what is the story that we must tell? How might this community be more effective communicators?
Why do we — or do we? — lack passion and boldness in making case for tackling afflictions that murder the world’s people earlier and earlier in their lives? Will we let process kill action? Is there really no sense of urgency? Are we pedestrian and too polite to drive the impact we sorely need?
Who will step to deliver the electric shock that Dr. Horton calls for? What does that shock look like?
How are we ensuring that this story is translating into action? Are we effectively closing the gap between producing and articulating the necessary knowledge base and supporting an inclusive and timely access to this knowledge at the practice and grassroots level ?
To the participants, I would be keen to engage in dialogue on these communication and translation questions.
What type of communication strategies/ framing tools have been used to influence practice and go beyond “advocating and promoting” activities related to NCDs?
Please share your success stories and challenges in reaching and sharing knowledge at the practice and grassroots level."
To respond to these questions please comment on this discussion.