The Change We Want to See Youth in Action on NCDs

Emma Honkala

Emma Honkala is a health researcher and Project Coordinator at the Kaufmann Agency, where she is currently overseeing a project on the subject of personalised cancer medicines. She is based in Helsinki.

For International Youth Day, she shared some thoughts about the work she's doing to #beatNCDs.

What is the change you'd most like to see in your community?

A. I wish the city of Helsinki would start improving its bike infrastructure. Public city bikes have become very popular which is a good start, but the city is just not built for cycling. I cycle to work every day and I often end up in dangerous situations trying to navigate the city. I have also lived in Copenhagen where cycling is easy, safe and fast! I really hope the City of Helsinki would realise the potential that improving bicycle infrastructure could have in improving people’s health and wellbeing!

Q. What are the main NCD-related challenges facing your community?

A. The general health of the Finnish population has improved during the past few decades as a result of successful societal policies. These improvements, however, have not been equally distributed. Despite the robust evidence on social and spatial disparities in health, especially in NCDs, little has been done to tackle these inequalities. Far-reaching policy solutions are needed to make a real difference and lower the burden of NCDs in Finland.

Q. Why are NCDs an important issue for you?

A. NCDs are a major health problem—70 % of global deaths are attributable to NCDs. The largest burden of NCDs occurs in low and middle income countries perpetuating poverty and hindering economic and social development. The issue that bothers me the most is that with real effort from governments, industries and civil society, the challenge of NCDs could be tackled!

Q. How are you working to #beatNCDs?

A. I’m working in a Finnish health care design agency, where we combine a strong understanding of complex clinical work with expertise in human-centric design, technologies and communications. Personally, I work to promote the topic of personalised cancer medicine. Through this advocacy work, I’m aiming to highlight the importance of equity and effective cancer care.

Q. Who or what has inspired you lately?

A. Every day at work I meet passionate people from different organisations who have dedicated their time to tackle NCDs. It just doesn't stop amazing me.


Created with images by Andrew Gook - "Beware of these Streets" • Angelo_Giordano - "helsinki gardens relaxation people young helsinki helsinki"

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