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AstraZeneca commits $35 million to non-communicable diseases

The company will extend funding for its award-winning Young Health Programme for a further five years with a pledge of $35 million to help to educate young people on the steps they can take to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases.

These diseases, which include cancer, diabetes, heart disease and heart failure, are responsible for the majority of deaths worldwide, and over two-thirds of those deaths can be directly attributed to behavior that begins in adolescence, statest the company.

The Young Health Programme

The Young Health Programme was launched in 2010 as the focus of AstraZeneca’s global philanthropy. It is a disease prevention programme designed to reach adolescents in under-resourced communities and work with them to reduce risk behaviors including smoking, the harmful use of alcohol, poor diet and lack of exercise.

The Young Health Programme has reached over three million young people, through a mix of programmes, advocacy and research activities designed to increase awareness and understanding of non-communicable disease prevention. These have ranged over 24 countries and six continents from Australia to Zambia. Programmes range from one-to-one mentoring in Sweden, to long-running community-based behavior change programmes involving hundreds of thousands of young people in Brazil and India. The methods may vary, but the drive is always the same – to help young people to lead longer, happier and healthier lives.

Earlier this month AstraZeneca published a report evaluating the impact of the Young Health Programme over the last decade. Later this year the programme will expand into Thailand, with programmes in Colombia and Egypt planned to launch in 2020.

“Non-communicable diseases continue to be the number one cause of death worldwide, and around 70% of those deaths can be linked to behavior that begins in adolescence. The Young Health Programme is AstraZeneca’s key philanthropic initiative that has already reached more than three million young people across the world. I’m proud to say that this extra funding will see the programme expand into Thailand, Egypt, Colombia and beyond, and reach a further five million young people by 2025,” says Marc Dunoyer, Chief Financial Officer, AstraZeneca.

The One Young World Summit

The announcement comes as the One Young World Summit takes place in London, bringing together more than 2,500 young people from all over the world to highlight and discuss some of the most serious issues facing the next generation and build connections that work towards solutions. The Summit is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals and increases awareness of the work of young people in this space.

AstraZeneca’s Young Health Programme has this year provided scholarships to 25 young people from all over the world, aged 18 to 30. These scholars are global change makers in their own right and are actively leading efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of young people in their home countries. They will attend the summit to learn, network and hear testimony from talented and motivated young people from all walks of life.

“In 2018, I attended One Young World as a Young Health Programme Scholar, an unforgettable experience that has created new opportunities for me as a young person. AstraZeneca got to know me through the Scholarship and hired me to lead their Young Health Programme in Mexico, which launched in March 2019.They wanted to make sure that a young person was directly involved in the programme, to keep it real and keep that youth focus for all of our engagement and interactions. It has been a dream come true for me,” says Jose Manuel Besares Lopez, Young Health Programme Lead, Mexico.

Photo of Marc Dunoyer: AstraZeneca