09:43am Saturday 28 March 2020

Spotlight on noncommunicable diseases

The UN High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and related events in New York September 19 and 20 will focus global attention on the prevention and control of chronic diseases, including diabetes, an emerging focus of PATH’s work, and cancer, which has been part of PATH’s core work for two decades.

While the UN meeting is restricted to heads of state and government leaders, PATH will participate in a number of related events being held in conjunction with the meeting.

Signature events

PATH leaders will be featured panelists at the following events:

  • Tackling NCDs: How can existing platforms be leveraged? This September 18 event, hosted by the Global Health Council and cosponsored by PATH, will examine how service delivery platforms can be adapted to respond to the growing challenge of NCDs, particularly in low-income countries. Dr. Jacqueline Sherris, vice president of Global Programs, will discuss PATH’s work on cervical cancer. Information and registration is on the Global Health Council website.
  • Integrating NCDs: The next frontier in women’s health. This September 19, invitation-only event is cohosted by PATH. It centers on the launch of a new task force on women’s health and NCDs to shape the women’s health agenda and focus attention and resources on a gender-based approach to NCD prevention and control. Dr. Christopher J. Elias, PATH president and CEO, will be a panelist, and Dr. Sherris will also attend.

In addition, PATH staff will participate in a number of related events during the week that focus on this important global health topic.

PATH’s work in NCDs

PATH is applying its decades of experience in reproductive health, behavior change, health system strengthening, and the development and advancement of technology solutions to the emerging issue of chronic diseases. A new and growing portfolio of diabetes projects complements our long history of work in cervical and breast cancer.

Cervical cancer

Beginning in 1991, PATH was among the first organizations to focus on cervical cancer in the developing world. PATH began working with private-sector collaborators in 2003 to develop two rapid tests for the types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause most cervical cancers, tests designed for use in places with limited health care resources. We also helped develop an even simpler visual inspection method so that women with limited access to health care facilities can receive screening and treatment in a single visit.

Between 2003 and 2007, PATH’s research partners screened more than 21,000 women from China and India, collected specimens for test development use, and offered free treatment as appropriate.

More recently, we completed a project to accelerate access to new HPV vaccines, working in four developing countries to assess tailored approaches to vaccine introduction and to provide education and training. In 2011, PATH published evidence-based recommendations on the most effective ways to reach adolescent girls with HPV vaccines.


New technologies with the potential to improve diabetes screening are on the cusp of commercial availability. PATH is collaborating with private-sector partners to develop, evaluate, and advance a portfolio of diabetes screening technologies aimed specifically at low-resource settings, including improved screening tests for both diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes. We are preparing to launch studies of selected diabetes screening products in India and Tanzania.

We are also considering how new technologies might fit within the continuum of diabetes care and serve as a catalyst for broader health systems strengthening and behavior change. We recently convened an international diabetes advisory group to discuss these issues.

In addition, we are assessing how developing countries can integrate diabetes screening, education, and treatment within existing platforms, including primary health care, microfinance, and community-based approaches.

Breast cancer

PATH’s work in breast cancer began in 1996, when PATH began working in Ukraine to strengthen cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and reporting. We also introduced the concept of peer support, which has grown into a national association of survivor groups directly benefitting more than 100,000 women.

In Peru, PATH recently launched a community-based program for breast health, a response to concerns about the inequitable distribution of screening and diagnostic services. The goal of the project is to help the Government of Peru establish and strengthen innovative and sustainable strategies to reduce the growing burden of breast cancer.

With our partners, we are training midwives to do clinical breast exams at health centers, training doctors to evaluate breast problems with fine needle aspiration biopsies, and developing curricula and communication materials.

Building partnerships to tackle NCDs

PATH seeks opportunities to build on our work in developing countries by adapting proven chronic disease solutions in low-resource settings. We will continue to develop relationships and build public- and private-sector collaborations that can address the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of chronic diseases.

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