Brigham awarded $28 million to address global burden of noncommunicable disease

“It’s past time that we form a global movement to better serve people doubly afflicted by NCDIs and extreme poverty.”

Noncommunicable diseases and injuries (NCDIs) such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer cause 560,000 avoidable deaths every year among the world’s poorest children and young adults—more than the death toll of HIV, tuberculosis, and maternal causes combined in this population. With leadership from Gene Bukhman, MD, PhD, a cardiologist and medical anthropologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission issued recommendations to confront this glaring inequity.

“Right now, less than $100 million—or just 0.3% of global health spending—is allocated to noncommunicable diseases in countries where the world’s poorest billion live,” says Bukhman. “It’s past time that we form a global movement to better serve people doubly afflicted by NCDIs and extreme poverty.”

To help build such a movement, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust pledged $24 million to propel a network of 21 lower-income countries that formed to implement the Lancet Commission’s recommendations, with Bukhman as co-chair of its steering committee. JDRF joined in with an additional $4 million, bringing the total to $28 million. With this transformative funding, Bukhman and his colleagues are launching the Center for Integration Science in Global Health Equity, based at the Brigham.

The center will provide an institutional home for the NCDI Poverty Network Secretariat, a joint initiative of the Brigham, Harvard Medical School, Partners In Health, and Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique that provides policy, research, training, implementation, and funding support to network initiatives. By 2030, the center aims to fulfill several missions, including a tenfold increase in the number of the poorest young people receiving lifesaving treatment for type 1 diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, and sickle cell disease.

“We’re grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust and JDRF for investing in this crucial effort to improve healthcare delivery and global health policy for those who have been historically underserved and live in poverty with severe chronic diseases,” says Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, president of the Brigham and executive vice president at Mass General Brigham.

Leaders of the Helmsley Charitable Trust note that the new center is drawing an essential roadmap for global healthcare delivery.

“To address the interconnections of disease and poverty, we must work together,” says Gina Agiostratidou, program director for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “By collaborating to scale solutions that can reach everyone in need, the center’s work could spare millions of people each year from disability and untimely death.”