20 civil society alliances in mainly low- and middle-income countries, including the South African Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance, were awarded grants to accelerate the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants, made by the first Civil Society Solidarity Fund on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) and COVID-19, were announced today by the global NCD Alliance during a high-level online event.

Todd Harper, President of the global NCD Alliance, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic shows many intersections between COVID-19 and NCDs. People living with NCDs are more vulnerable to COVID-19, with a substantially higher risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the virus. The pandemic also impacts the poorest communities around the world and the most vulnerable people in every country. The civil society solidarity fund was born out of the need to tackle NCDs as fundamental to health security and to prevent a reversal of gains made in NCDs prevention and control around the world”.

The fund, totalling $300,000, competitively awarded grants of up to US$15,000 to national and regional NCD alliances.  The purpose of the grants is to support alliances to address the critical needs of people living with NCDs during COVID-19 via advocacy and communication activities that will support stronger organisational stability and resilience.

Dr Vicki Pinkney-Atkinson, Director of SA NCDs Alliance, states: “Until the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the inequitable fault lines in the health system, NCDs+ are a neglected priority in South Africa. In South Africa, 99% of the people who have died because of COVID-19 are those of us living with NCDs+. The funding is a cause for celebration in an otherwise dark time with record daily number of new infections and deaths. It will allow the participation of people living with NCDs+ to building back a better health system with equity for NCDs prevention and treatment. We can work alongside the government to ensure that NCDs public health plans are equal to those for HIV and meet our needs.” 

Katie Dain, CEO of NCD Alliance, added: “This is a first-of-its-kind fund to support NCD civil society organisations (CSOs) response to COVID-19. During pandemics, momentum in several health and sustainable development issues, notably HIV/AIDS, Ebola and climate change, have repeatedly reinforced the critical role of CSOs and community-led efforts in accelerating action from local to global levels. Civil society are proven campaigners, change agents, experts, implementers and watchdogs”.

The millions of South Africans living with NCDs+ are a critical at-risk, vulnerable group during COVID-19. No community is spared from the impacts of COVID-19 or NCDs, affecting rich and poor alike. The COVID-19 pandemic, despite its huge negative impact, offer a policy window of opportunity to work together to build a better health system and society free from the preventable suffering, disability, and death caused by NCDs.

The NCD Alliance Civil Society Solidarity Fund on NCDs and COVID-19 is possible thanks to generous financial contributions of global NCD Alliance’s supporters: The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Access Accelerated, Takeda, AstraZeneca and Upjohn (Pfizer). The Fund received 45 submissions from national and regional alliances across all regions, which were reviewed by a selection committee. The Fund recognises the essential work of NCD advocates, which now becomes even more critical than ever to ensure political and media attention to the needs of people living with NCDs as one of the most vulnerable groups to COVID-19.

The recipients of the Civil Society Solidarity Fund are from Africa, Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Latin America:

  • ACT Promoção da Saúde (Health Promotion, Brazil)
  • Alianza ENT Uruguay (NCD Uruguay)
  • Alliance MNT Benin;
  • Bangladesh NCDS Forum
  • Burundi NCD Alliance
  • Cambodian NCD Alliance
  • Cameroon Civil Society NCD Alliance
  • Coalition MNT-Togo;
  • East Africa NCD Alliance;
  • Healthy Caribbean Coalition;
  • Healthy Latin American Coalition;
  • Healthy Philippines Alliance
  • Jordan NCD Alliance
  • NCD Alliance Nigeria;
  • South African NCDs Alliance
  • Slovenian NCD Alliance
  • South East Asia Regional NCD Alliance
  • Trinidad & Tobago NCD Alliance
  • UK Working Group on NCDs
  • Zambia NCD Alliance