For Immediate Release
February 18, 2011

BOSTON – Dr. Paul Farmer (co-founder of Partners In Health and Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard), Dr. Agnes Binagwaho (Permanent Secretary of the Rwandan Ministry of Health) and Dr. Gene Bukhman (Director of the Program in Global Non-communicable Disease and Social Change at Harvard Medical School) will hold a press conference call on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 4:00PM EST to discuss the need to include the needs of the world’s poorest people in the broader discussion about non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The call is in advance of a March 2-3, 2011 conference, The Long Tail of Global Health Equity: Tackling the Endemic Non-Communicable Diseases of the Bottom Billion at the Joe Martin Conference Center on the Harvard Medical School campus. The UN General Assembly will host a high-level session on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in September 2011.

The UN session will take place largely because of the advocacy of middle-income countries, and preparations for it have so far focused almost exclusively on their concerns about NCDs that are largely the result of eating too much, exercising too little, and consuming tobacco and alcohol. Little attention and few resources have been devoted to the very different NCDs that account for approximately one quarter of disease among people who survive on less than $1 day (the so-called “Bottom Billion”). On the call, Drs. Farmer, Binagwaho and Bukhman will discuss why treating NCDs in resource-poor countries must be a global health priority. They will also share examples from Rwanda and other developing countries that prove prevention and treatment of NCDs among the poor is possible, affordable, and can be effectively integrated into a comprehensive strategy that strengthens public health systems.

The March 2-3 conference is hosted by Harvard Medical School, Partners In Health, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care & Control in Developing Countries, and the NCD Alliance. The meeting will bring together experts about conditions such as rheumatic heart disease, Burkitt’s lymphoma, malnutrition-associated diabetes, and the respiratory impact of household fuels. The conference will also feature leaders in global health financing and individuals with experience treating non-communicable and infectious disease among the world’s poorest people. Speakers include Paul Farmer, Dean Jamison, K. Srinath Reddy, and Peter Hotez.

Who: Paul Farmer, MD, PhD
          Co-founder, Partners In Health,
          Kolokotrones University Professor, Harvard University
        Agnes Binagwaho, MD, PhD
          Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Republic of Rwanda
        Gene Bukhman, MD, PhD
          Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School,
          Director, HMS Program in Global Non-communicable Disease and Social Change

What: Press conference call to discuss the need to increase focus on non-communicable diseases among the world’s poorest populations

When: 4PM EST, Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DIAL IN: Domestic: 1 (888) 771-4371 International: 1 (847) 585-4405  Passcode: 29137860

About PIH: PIH is an international medical organization committed to improving the health of the poor and marginalized. PIH challenges the standards of what’s acceptable – and raises the standards of what’s possible – in some of the world’s poorest communities through a model of research, service and training. We work with local and international partners to increase life expectancies by providing people access to modern medicine, strengthening public health systems, and addressing the root social and economic causes of poor health and disease: lack of access to clean water, healthy food, stable housing, education and economic opportunity. PIH works in 12 countries around the world.