WHO Leaders Discuss PEN-Plus at the World Health Assembly

Leaders from the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO), WHO Headquarters, and other stakeholders invested in the implementation of PEN-Plus met in Geneva on 24 May to discuss PEN-Plus as a key strategy for decentralizing care for severe NCDs and providing the world’s most vulnerable with accessible and affordable health care for chronic conditions including type 1 diabetes (T1D), sickle cell disease (SCD), and rheumatic and congenital heart disease (RHD/CHD).

World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti gave remarks at the event and expressed her excitement at the opportunity PEN-Plus offers to find ways to integrate care for NCDs.

WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti addresses PEN-Plus stakeholders at World Health Assembly.

WHO AFRO has developed a regional strategy for PEN-Plus, which is on the agenda to be reviewed and adopted at the August 2022 regional committee meeting.

Speaking as the Co-Chair of the NCDI Poverty Network, Dr. Gene Bukhman highlighted the importance of integration to provide life-saving NCD care in rural and peri-urban communities in low- and lower-middle income countries (LLMICs). Network Co-Chair Dr. Ana Mocumbi explained that PEN-Plus is one such integrated care delivery strategy that leverages linkages between conditions to train mid-level providers in the skills needed to provide chronic care services for T1D, SCD, and RHD/CHD. Speaking on behalf of the Malawi Ministry of Health, Dr. Jones Masiye explained to the group that PEN-Plus was successfully implemented in 2018 in the Neno district of Malawi. Malawi is moving forward with plans to scale-up PEN-Plus nationally by establishing two new clinics in strategically located Salima and Karonga.

Additional speakers at the event were NCDI Poverty Network Voices Advocacy Fellow Anu Gomanju and Helmsley Charitable Trust Program Officer James Reid. Speaking on why support for integrated care delivery models like PEN-Plus are so important, James Reid stressed “No matter where a child is born, however remote, they deserve to live a long fulfilling life. They deserve the right to essential medicine and supplies, and they deserve quality, affordable, and consistent care to treat their NCD.”

Other participants represented the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), NCD Alliance, Life for a Child, the Pan-African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR), Global Alliance for Rheumatic and Congenital Hearts (Global ARCH), and many other leading financing, policymaking, technical, and advocacy institutions.

PEN-Plus stakeholders will meet again in September 2022 to celebrate the official launch of the PEN-Plus Partnership, which has brought together 42 organizations and 40 individuals to convene regularly and provide technical, policy, advocacy, and financing support to countries implementing and scaling-up PEN-Plus.

If you are interested in supporting PEN-Plus expansion, you may consider joining the NCDI Poverty Network and participating in one of the PEN-Plus working groups. Learn more about Network membership here.