Evidence isn’t enough: getting the non-communicable disease narrative right

Event Details


CAN Mezzanine 7 - 14 Great Dover Street London SE1 4YR

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Start: 30 March, 2017 at 8:30am

End: 30 March, 2017 at 10:00am

Non-communicable disease (NCD) is the leading cause of death world-wide and has been so for the last 15 years.

But what if evidence isn’t enough to convince the international community of NCD’s urgency, or that the global response needs to be escalated? What if it is our ability to tell a compelling narrative about the evidence that is lacking?

On Thursday 30 March we heard from Johanna Ralston, global fellow at Geneva Centre for Security Policy and previously CEO of the World Heart Federation as well as Vice Chair and founding member of NCD Alliance.


How to create compelling evidence?

A recent book by Alex Evans, The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough, argues that every successful political movement needs to not only have evidence, but also needs to tell the ‘right story’. A clear and compelling narrative has yet to emerge for the NCD movement, though numerous sub-narratives exist. A clearer story would bring together donors, decision-makers and stakeholders in low-, middle- and high-resource settings to fully implement the WHO Global Action Plan on NCDs, as well as incorporate health into all policies so that the burden of cancer cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and others NCDs can be properly addressed.


Speaker’s biography: Johanna Ralston

Johanna Ralston, currently a fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, and previously the CEO of World Heart Federation as well as Vice Chair and founding member of NCD Alliance, will speak about the need for a NCD movement narrative cover some of the steps that are being taken to achieve this.

Johanna’s full-time work in global NCDs started in 1999, when she was employed by the American Cancer Society to build its global cancer and tobacco-control programme, developing capacity building programmes to address cancer in low- and middle-income countries. As CEO of the World Heart Federation and Vice Chair and steering group member of the NCD Alliance from 2011 until December 2016, Johanna has worked to elevate cardiovascular disease and other NCDs on the global agenda. She is now a global fellow at Geneva Centre for Security Policy where she is writing on issues of health and security, including doing research on the narrative for NCDs.

Johanna has served on numerous advisory boards and expert groups for the World Health Organization, the World Economic Forum, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has published her work in the Lancet, Global Heart, the European Heart Journal, and in Huffington Post. Johanna studied at Harvard Business School and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. A citizen of Sweden and the United States, she is currently based in Geneva.

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