Non Communicable Diseases Press Conference

Non Communicable Diseases Press Conference

Fri 16 Sep 2011

Story by The Food Revolution Team

In preparation for the United Nations Summit on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which is taking place on Sept 19 & 20 in New York, Dr Ala Alwan, the Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization yesterday held a press conference on NCDs.

During this press conference Dr Alwan talked about the upcoming Summit, recognizing that it is a very important milestone in public health and development as it is only the second time there has been a UN general assembly meeting with the heads of state and government to address this emerging health issue with a socio-economic impact.

As Dr Alwan discussed, this years summit will be on NCDs focusing on four groups of diseases that share four modifiable risk factors. Cardiovascular disease, Cancers, Diabetes and Chronic Lung diseases are four of the most prominent NCDs and are all linked by 4 modifiable and behavioural risk factors:

Tobacco use
Unhealthy diet
Physical inactivity
Harmful use of Alcohol

These NCDs are the leading causes of mortality globally causing over 30 million deaths per year, 9 million of which occur under the age of 60 and, as stated by Dr Alwan, NCDs are increasing at a very fast rate and magnitude, such that the WHO estimates that there will be a 17% increase in mortality from these NCDs in the next 10years.

So next week heads of state, and ministers among others will meet to discuss the health and social economic burden of NCDs. Countries are already facing major challenges and the meeting next week will provide the chance to approve a global agenda on this struggle using a global strategy for the prevention and control of NCDs.

According to Dr Alwan there are 3 key components of action that every member of state has to consider:

1. Surveillance - the need to monitor NCDs along with their risk factors and determinants
2. Reducing the risk factors
3. Health care the need to provide health care and promote access for everyone

As recognized by Dr Alwan, there is a major problem with obesity and the links between obesity and NCDs are very well established. Obesity trends over the last 20-30 years have clearly shown it to be an emerging major problem and whilst this was mainly seen in developed industrialized countries there is now also a trend being seen in low income, developing countries obesity is fast becoming a global problem.

A number of strategies have been proposed which aim to give clear guidelines on what needs to be done and what every country ought to consider. These include diet related aspects in the strategy against NCDs, in which guidelines include reducing sugar intake, eliminating trans fats and reducing salt and saturated fat consumption.

This weekend and during the UN Summit there will be a number of discussions along with presentations of study results on what will happen if we dont take action and how we can implement best buys (interventions that have been shown by evidence to be effective in reducing burden both cost effective and affordable), some of which will be related to diet.

Lets hope the UN Summit next week works towards finding a solution to effectively tackle and reduce NCDs globally in order to reduce the number of preventable deaths through agreeing the draft Political Declaration which addresses a global framework for the prevention & control of NCDs.

The above information is taken from the NCD press conference with Dr Ala Alwen which you can watch here.

The Food Revolution Team

More information on the NCD Summit:

The 1st Summit On Non Communicable Diseases
World Health Organization Fact Sheet on the NCD Summit
The NCD Alliance
Unite for a Healthy Future


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