UN conference recognises noncommunicable diseases

02 Sep 2010

The final Declaration of the annual United Nations conference for NGOs recognises noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) as one of the significant health challenges facing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Declaration from the Conference, agreed by 1,600 participants representing over 350 NGOs from more than 70 countries, also called on governments to “respect and implement” international health agreements such as the FCTC.

The Declaration is important recognition of the impact that NCDs have on global public health. Including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive lung disease, NCDs are responsible for more than 35 million deaths each year worldwide, with 80% in low- and middle-income countries.

Up to 4/5 of these deaths could be prevented by attention to key risk factors, the single most important of which is tobacco use.

“When Heads of State from around the world meet in New York at the MDG Review Summit, they will receive this important resolution, which is a clear message from civil society that governments must act to prevent and control NCDs,” said Professor Rob Moodie, Chair of Australia’s National Preventative Taskforce and one of the lead organisers of the Conference. “One of the keys to this, which was also recognised by civil society, is the full implementation of the FCTC,” he added.

At the Conference, FCA and its partners organised a workshop: Overcome barriers to achieving MDGs by tackling tobacco use and noncommunicable diseases. It discussed how timely achievement of the MDGs is being severely undermined by tobacco use. For example, one in five tuberculosis deaths could be avoided if patients did not smoke.

The workshop also examined how the health systems of developing economies are struggling to deal with the growing burden of NCDs caused by tobacco use and other risk factors.

FCA is working with the NCD Alliance to get noncommunicable diseases on the global health agenda. The Alliance will participate in the MDG Summit in New York, 20-22 September, where it will advocate for inclusion of NCDs and their key risk factors on the Summit agenda and for the addition of NCD indicators to the MDGs. The Summit is designed to assess progress towards the MDG deadline of 2015.

A UN Summit on NCDs is scheduled for September 2011.

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