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UN Member States jeopardise progress on epidemic

Media Release

FOE (Fight the Obesity Epidemic)

4 September 2011

UN Member States jeopardise international progress on non-communicable disease epidemic

Wellington – The fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease, is at grave risk, because of recent efforts by some countries to stall and weaken critical United Nations negotiations FOE (Fight the Obesity Epidemic) warned today.

“The situation is urgent,” said Dr Robyn Toomath, spokesperson for FOE. “Sound proposals for clear goals and timelines to tackle these devastating diseases are being systematically deleted, diluted and downgraded by some member states. Urgent action is needed now to put the negotiations back on track.”

NCDs are the leading cause of death worldwide each year, causing 36 million deaths in 2008 and accounting for 63 per cent of all global deaths. Over the next 20 years, the NCD epidemic is projected to accelerate exponentially, putting enormous strain on families, health systems and economies.

New Zealand is a world leader in obesity prevalence (3rd according to recent estimates) with the consequent problems of type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and so forth that follows on from this.

Public Health experts have pushed for the UN summit knowing that the NCD epidemic could be effectively addressed through the reduction of risk factors – principally tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol – and early detection and timely treatments.

“We have a unique and historic opportunity to change the course of this ticking time bomb and stop millions of people around the world suffering unnecessary pain and hardship”, said Robyn Toomath. “To do that, we need governments, including our own, to agree and act on a common goal.”

FOE together with other organisations in the NCD Alliance is calling on the High Level Meeting to agree:

• An overarching goal to reduce preventable deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025

• A clear timeline for tackling the epidemic of the four major NCDs – cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease

• A set of specific, evidence-based targets and global indicators

• A high-level collaborative initiative of governments and UN agencies with civil society to stimulate and assess progress.


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