Leading Health Organizations Call for Urgent Action to Address Noncommunicable Diseases
Last September, the UN General Assembly (GA) held a High Level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), an historic opportunity to put NCDs—including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory diseases—on the global health agenda. During this meeting, the General Assembly unanimously adopted the Political Declaration on the prevention and control of NCDs that elevated NCDs on the global stage and charted a course of action for their control and prevention.
In 2008, NCDs accounted for approximately 63% of global deaths. They are also estimated to be the leading cause of death among women, accounting for 65% of global deaths. Tragically, the number of NCD deaths is projected to increase from 36 million to 44 million deaths annually by 2020 unless UN member states develop appropriate policy and public health interventions now to prevent, treat, and manage NCDs. Civil society's role will be critical to ensuring appropriate follow-up action in countries.
In addition to the human cost, the economic impact of NCDs is staggering and has the potential to dramatically impact countries’ economies. A recent study by the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health estimates that the four primary NCDs plus mental health could result in a cumulative output loss of $47 trillion over the next two decades. Thankfully, there exist low cost public health interventions ("best buys”) that can save millions of dollars and most importantly prevent premature deaths.
The UN High-Level Meeting was a critical catalyst to initiating meaningful and effective global and national policy change to stop this enormous economic and social threat. We must work collectively to sustain this momentum and urge governments and UN leaders to implement the commitments made in the Political Declaration and allocate the necessary resources to do so. The WHO is developing a comprehensive global monitoring framework for the prevention and control of NCDs, for consideration by Member States as a major first step in this process. As the leading voluntary U.S. based organizations addressing NCDs and representing millions of volunteers and patients, we call on the US to take a strong leadership role in this process of translating commitments into action.
We commend the member states for their commitment to NCDs and specifically ask them to address the following:
- The ten initial global targets proposed by WHO must be adopted at the World Health Assembly in May, 2012. Delaying the definition of an initial set of targets would undermine the ability of nations to adhere to the commitments of the UN High-level Meeting.
- Targets and indicators on other priorities, such as access to essential medicines and vaccines, must also be developed by the end of 2012.
- Encourage the endorsement by the World Health Assembly, at its May 2012 meeting, to reduce preventable deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025.
- NCD prevention and control efforts and targets must be included into the United Nations’ Successor Development Goals and other UN efforts aimed at poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
The American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association have joined forces to support the follow up to the UN High-level meeting. This work is being conducted under the banner of the Preventive Health Partnership (PHP), our joint initiative founded in 2004 to increase application of public health and clinical interventions of known efficacy to reduce prevalence of tobacco use, poor diet, and insufficient physical activity and to increase utilization of screening tests for early detection. Through our PHP advocacy efforts, we are providing key policy and media stakeholders with resources that highlight the global burden of NCDs and the need for coordinated interventions, technical assistance and support to inform policy discussions and access to vetted global NCD experts who can address the growing NCD burden.
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.