Momentum has continued since the 47 member states of the African Region of the World Health Organization adopted the regional PEN-Plus strategy to address severe noncommunicable diseases at first-level referral health facilities.
To build on that momentum, WHO/AFRO experts from the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) program were in Boston in late January to meet with leaders and staff from both the Boston and Maputo co-secretariats of the NCDI Poverty Network. The PEN-Plus Regional strategy is designed to increase the capacity of first-level health facilities in rural and peri-urban areas to diagnose and treat severe, chronic NCDs such as type 1 diabetes, sickle cell disease, and rheumatic heart disease using standardized and evidence based, protocols supported by mentorships of the service providers.
During the three days of meetings, the AFRO and Network teams reviewed the PEN-Plus implementation framework that the WHO/AFRO team developed and discussed how the Network can best support achieving the ambitious goal of the regional strategy – to have 70% of member states rolling out PEN-Plus services by 2030. They also covered approaches to country prioritization, operational research needs, and monitoring and reporting methods at national, regional, and global levels.
On the third day, representatives from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, UNICEF, and the American Heart Association joined the WHO/AFRO and NCDI Poverty Network teams. These organizations are key members of a high-level Advisory Group for the PEN-Plus Partnership that focuses on resource mobilization strategies to support PEN-Plus initiation and scale-up.
The meetings were hosted by the Center for Integration Science in Global Health Equity, which serves as the Network’s Boston co-secretariat, working in conjunction with the Maputo co-secretariat based at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique. The Center is a joint initiative of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Partners In Health.