World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


UN: World’s poor hardest hit by chronic diseases

World’s poor hardest hit by chronic diseases, says top UN health official

10 July 2014 – At a high-level review and assessment by the United Nations General Assembly of progress achieved in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Margaret Chan todayexpressed deep concern about projected trends, especially as poor populations, the least able to cope, will be hit the hardest.

Kicking off the two-day meeting at Headquarters, Ms. Chan called the Assembly’s 2011 Political Declaration on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases “a watershed moment”, highlighting that it enticed bold commitments to act while putting prevention forward as the cornerstone of a global response.

That political declaration gave WHO a leadership role, together with several time-bound assignments to tackle non-communicable diseases, which include such chronic ailments as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. These assignments, which have been completed, established global mechanisms and a roadmap for coordinate multi-sectoral action and monitoring of results.

The progress within countries matters most, she stressed, calling some of the achievements to emerge from a survey conducted by WHO last year “striking”. For example, of the 172 countries reporting data, 95 per cent have a unit or department in the Ministry of Healthy responsible for non-communicable diseases. Half now have an integrated operational plan along with a dedicated budget. In the same vein, the number of countries conducting recent surveys of risk factors jumped from 30 percent in 2011 to 63 percent last year.

“More and more countries are getting the basics in place,” she said, but while the progress report shows that some very cost-effective and affordable interventions have worked well in many countries, it found that overall progress is insufficient and highly uneven.

“I see no lack of commitment. I see a lack of capacity to act, especially in the developing world,” she said, pointing to data showing that 85 percent of premature deaths from NCDs occur in developing countries.

“Challenges remain enormous and demand a fundamental change in the way social progress is measured, the way Governments work, the way responsibilities are assigned and the way boundaries of different government sectors are defined,” Ms. Chan said.

Highlighting that these chronic diseases have overtaken infectious diseases as the world’s leading cause of morbidity and mortality, she urged a “seismic shift” that calls for sweeping changes in the very mind-set of public health.

Health systems in the developing world must be better equipped for long-term management of chronic conditions with their costly and demanding complications. “Public health must shift its focus from cure to prevention, from short-term to long-term management, from delivering babies, vaccines and antibiotics to changing human behaviours, from acting along to acting in concert with multiple sectors,” Ms. Chan urged.

She went further to say that the dynamics of socioeconomic progress have changed and are actually creating the conditions that favour the rise of non-communicable diseases. Economic growth, modernization and urbanization foster unhealthy lifestyles and the world’s obesity epidemic is getting worse, compounded by the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages.

Healthier food options are neither affordable nor accessible in large parts of the developing world, she continued, and too often, the unhealthiest food is often the cheapest and most convenient. More must to be done to educate people about the health effects of smoking, harmful use of alcohol and physical inactivity, she said, stressing the importance of an alcohol tax and enforcing advertising bans, particularly in developing countries.

The health sector cannot be responsible for it all, she said, urging all ministries to get involved. Giving targeted examples, she said that Ministers of education could improve school meals, remove vending machines selling unhealthy snacks and make programmes for physical activity part of the school curriculum. Ministers of agriculture could continue to ensure the abundance and safety of food supply. And Ministers of trade could be better equipped to confront the tobacco industry when it takes legal action against governments introducing anti-tobacco measures.

“Governments cannot assume that [non-communicable diseases] are a health problem that the health sector can manage on its own. We cannot,” she said.

Delivering opening remarks, General Assembly President John Ashe said the comprehensive review took place against the “stark recognition” that non-communicable diseases are now the largest single cause of death and disability worldwide, killing some 36 million people, or 63 percent of a total 57 million in 2008. And the outlook remains grim. By 2020, the number of related deaths is expected to grow to 44 million per year.

He highlighted achievements since 2011, including endorsement by the World Health Assembly in 2013 of a Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of the diseases 2013-2020 as well as the adoption of a comprehensive global monitoring framework, which includes nine global targets to be achieved by 2025.

Despite these positive developments, developing countries were struggling from commitment to action and not because of lack of political will but rather lack of resources- technical and financial. The burden is disproportionately placed on the developing world, where 80 percent of global deaths from non- communicable diseases occur, said Mr. Ashe.

The health and economic burdens of non-communicable diseases severely undermine development, particularly in the Pacific and Caribbean regions where as much as 25 per cent of both populations suffer from one or more of those diseases. He said it was critical to provide sustainable financing and technical support to these regions and beyond. “Tackling [non-communicable diseases] is good for human health, as well as development,” The Assembly President decalred.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Russian Hack Job?: White House - Actions In Response To Russian Malicious Cyber Activity & Harassment

President Obama authorized a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election in 2016. More>>


Israel/Palestine: Michael Field - Background To How Israel Nearly Went To War With New Zealand

New Zealand and Senegal managed to get the United Nations Security Council to pass resolution 2334 which said Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territory violate international law and undermine a two-state solution in Israel's conflict with Palestine. More>>

ALSO:


US Indigenous Affairs: How President Obama Has Protected Our Sacred Land

I am very proud to be both Navajo and American. As the President of the Navajo Nation, I’ve dedicated my life to ensuring that, as a Navajo, my story -- and our stories -- are part of our collective American history. Today, I want to share one of those stories with you. More>>

Binoy Kampmark: The Berlin Truck Attack And The Refugee Question

The hard-nosed neo-cons were certainly showing little interest in linking arguments, examining evidence, or even considering elementary logic in the aftermath of the Berlin truck attack near the Gedächtniskirche. With the bodies fresh in the morgue, former US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, peered into the mind of the everyday German, and found teeth chattering fear. More>>


Demonetisation: Gordon Campbell On India’s Huge Socio-Economic Experiment

Without much coverage at all in the West, India has just been engaged for the past few weeks in one of the world’s biggest socio-economic experiments since the Cultural Revolution in China. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Death Of Fidel Castro

New Zealand likes to think we played our part – via the 1981 Springbok tour – in bringing the apartheid regime in South Africa to an end… Jacob Zuma treated the death of Fidel Castro at the weekend as an occasion to pay a heartfelt tribute to the thousands of Cuban soldiers who travelled across the world to inflict the first significant military defeat on the forces of white supremacy. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The US Election Home Stretch

Once again at the business end of a US election, the result will hinge on the same old bits of geography as always: the Five Crucial Counties in Ohio, the Two Crucial Counties in Pennsylvania and the I-4 Interstate Corridor in Florida that runs from Tampa Bay through Orlando to Daytona Beach. More>>

ALSO:

Meanwhile:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news