The Atlanta Declaration: A 21st Century Vision for US-Based Global Noncommunicable Disease Research
Thursday, September 10, 2015
The United States has been synonymous with innovation. Conducting research to better understand the world and to experiment with new ideas has been an important part of this country’s progress. However, at this critical juncture in history, when chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) (e.g., cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental health disorders) are rapidly becoming the largest global health burdens, affecting human welfare and productivity worldwide, US institutions must better align opportunities, pathways, and resources for 21st century scientists and future leaders in health policy.
To this end, we present lessons for government and academia by citing key innovations from a 21st century icon: Google. Bold and unconventional business and human resources strategies have made Google one of the most valuable companies in the world, and for the past three years, Fortune has listed Google as the “best company to work for.”
These lessons underpin the “Atlanta Declaration,” which emerged from the September 2014 US Investigators’ Global Non-Communicable Diseases Research Network Symposium held at Emory University. Participants, including the authors of this post, established the Global Noncommunicable Disease Network to chart a course for creatively supporting the next generation of scientists in the global NCD arena. The group articulated two main recommendations for achieving this goal—making larger and sustained investments in global NCDs research and encouraging non-traditional career paths to achieve innovation—both of which are described in greater detail below.
The Current Paradigm
The United States is not committing enough resources to the world’s biggest health problems. Worldwide, NCDs account for 66 percent of all deaths, but only 2 percent of overseas donor assistance is budgeted for NCDs. Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are disproportionately affected by NCDs. For example, 80 percent of worldwide cardiovascular disease mortality occurs in LMICs, and NCDs account for over US $250 billion annually in lost productivity in these countries.
Furthermore, the greatest barriers to combating NCDs, factors outside the traditional biomedical framework such as weak health systems and insufficient capacity, appear daunting.
- Health Care