Global Policy Co-ordinator Rhea Saksena at HLM3

On September 27, members of the NCDFREE team attended the Third United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs (HLM3) in New York. While the meeting resulted in renewed commitments from heads of state to a new political declaration outlining 13 new steps for tackling preventable NCDs, NCDFREE – and many other civil society organisations and individuals in the global health community – worries that the new policies do not go far enough in encouraging accountability and action on #beatNCDs goals.

NCDFREE Global Policy Co-ordinator Rhea Saksena took a stand from the ECOSOC Council Chamber, underlining the importance of listening to youth voices and committing to action in the global fight to end preventable disease deaths. Click here to watch her full statement, and read the transcript below.

“My name is Rhea Saksena, from NCDFREE, and I am here representing the voice of young people from all backgrounds around the world – not just young people within the health sector but in technology, design, agriculture, business amongst others.

We thank you all member state representatives who are present. Thank you for taking your time to commit to taking this issue seriously. This meeting is about taking bold actions, and now is the time to take the first step and to focus on specifics. Talk not just to your health colleagues but to your finance ministries, communications teams and importantly, YOUNG PEOPLE. Look to your young populations – we are already thinking and acting across disciplines. Please invest in places, spaces and ideas that foster these collaborations. And remember you can learn from us as much as we can learn from you.

Examine the principles that your government is currently prioritising. Stand up against the business interests of powerful economic operators that are detrimental to health. Let engagement with other sectors be responsibly conducted and do not let health be sidelined for commercial interests.

We have travelled to this room today to look you in the eye and talk directly to you, on one hand out of fear – that our enthusiasm today will not be enough and we will live to see another generation return to this plenary floor and be resigned again to empty promises for change. We cannot let this political declaration be a great collection of buzzwords.

We also come to you with hope and optimism in our eyes. Whatever our backgrounds, we sit in this room, together. And as young people, we are ready to partners in these solutions. Involve us! We have the energy, the continuity to see these plans through and the disruptive attitude to keep innovating until we live to see a world which serves the people and their health as a priority. We’re looking forward to working together to make this dream a reality. Are you?”