Story by The Food Revolution Team

Last Month, the Humanitarian Centre – a Cambridge, UK based international relief and development network – in partnership with the Cambridge Institute of Public Health and the Centre for Science and Policy ran a Post UN Summit Conference on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

During the conference, which was a follow up on the UN Summit last September where world leaders unanimously adopted the Political Declaration on NCDs, presentations took place from world-renowned experts in NCD research, policy and practice. Outcomes of this conference will be translated into key messages and policy recommendations on the potential to alleviate the harm of these diseases, particularly in developing countries.

The reception was attended by a large audience and a panel of speakers including Malcolm Bruce MP, International Development Committee Chairman, Rushanara Ali MP, Shadow Minister for International Development and Professor Nick Wareham, Director of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit and Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), University of Cambridge.

First recommendations to be announced from this conference include that government should:

“¢ Advocate for the inclusion of NCDs in the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDG) framework.
“¢ Offer expertise and technical assistance to support national governments in developing countries to develop national plans on NCDs.
“¢ Fund and support research to identify effective NCD interventions.

While this conference looked mainly to the UK government for advice, strategy and action that can be taken on NCDs in developing communities, we look forward to more countries and governments addressing this important issue.

Why Are NCDs Important?

60% of deaths in the world are due to NCDs “” 80% of which occur in developing countries””yet they attract only 3% of donor aid (1). Unhealthy diets (especially those which have a high content in fats, free sugars and salt) and physical inactivity are among some of the leading causes of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases (CVD), type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Obesity is already a global problem in both developed and developing countries and its health costs will impact all countries facing it with 2.8 million people dying every year as a result of being overweight or obese(2). The economic impact will be much more damaging for those countries with lower incomes that are less able to afford the rising costs.

It is therefore vital that these recommendations are taken on board, that the conversation continues in countries across the world and that NCDs stay on governments agendas to ensure that more meaningful steps are made and an agenda is put in place to reduce and prevent NCDs, before we have an even bigger problem on our hands to pass on to the next generation.

The Food Revolution Team

(1) Humanitarian Centre
(2) Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010