Director’s diary: Understanding C3’s work

07 Oct 2019
Christine Hancock

Director’s diary: Understanding C3’s work

I do a note every week for colleagues (and for the charity’s record) telling them who I’ve met and what I’ve done and recently they suggested it would interest our network members and those wanting to learn more about C3. C3’s name is Collaborating as we know that only through collaboration can society hope to overcome this epidemic of serious preventable disease (which claims 41 million people annually).


September seemed quiet but when I reflected on the past month we seem to have done a lot in our drive to prevent ill health.  We at C3 often run events to showcase ideas and case studies and this month we did two, one on health promotion and health advocacy in India, showing how young people are having an impact in a country where 1 in 4 people die prematurely from NCD & Professor Karen Walker-Bone talking on muscular skeletal problems in the workplace, and very much a C3 message of Move! Move! Move!  We also did our first webinar on understanding mental health for nurses and other health professionals.  Sometimes people say they don’t understand why we do certain things but we are true to our core mission to create changes that make it easier for people to stop smoking, improve what they eat and drink and do more physical activity.  You don’t walk or run much if you’re weighed down by depression or joint pain and you won’t find it easy to quit smoking and may take comfort in less healthy food and drink.

Going to London’s stunning City Hall where C3 friends Professor Corinna Hawkes and Phil Veasey launched their ten ambitions for London to tackle child obesity. They listened to children and have identified all the challenges and the challenge will be in making it happen.  A more sombre event took place focusing on the other end of the age range when Paul Ong from the WHO Kobe centre talked about the challenges of Japan’s ageing population: Cure when you can; Prevent what you can; Care and that we should be planning for a society where everyone is 100.

The month has buzzed with news stories about vaping, which the Japanese don’t like, preferring the heat not burn cigarettes. Most of the news was about 18 deaths in California almost certainly due to illicit street vapes. I saw no publicity about the 43,000 Californians who die from tobacco each year. The evidence that vaping works as an effective way for cigarette smokers to quit was reinforced by an EU speaker at an event I went to who said there is greater reduction in smoking in countries where e-cigarettes are allowed. That event reinforced my view that C3 runs very good events! At this one I had no idea who else was there, except the man sitting next to me. C3’s Wellbeing Forum (May 13th in central London) will have a workshop on vaping.

The UN brought presidents and prime ministers to New York to discuss both climate change and health….if only the NCD world had a Greta Thunberg!  I joined key international NGOs at the famous Chatham House to talk about Universal Health Coverage (UHC), WHO’s aim which means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. This is really important for people in developing countries but my fear is that it will be seen as about hospitals, clinics, doctors, and drugs, in which case political attention focusing on UHC could divert from preventing NCDs.  So, in my view C3’s agenda is best met by focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals.

I enjoyed meeting Michele Lahey who was on her way to Afghanistan, Kenya and Pakistan working with the Aga Khan Health services who I worked with many years ago and visited more recently. Their community and hospital services are very important in much of Asia and eastern Africa. Michele and I talked about the Aga Khan’s commitment to nursing being a key part to his commitment to provide opportunities for women.  Our Chatham House meeting wondered if nurses hold the key to NCD Prevention and that is certainly why C3 is committed to working with nurses across the world.