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Updated On: Monday, 22 July 2019

GA Backs United Effort to Lift Non Communicable Diseases Out of Obscurity

Content by: South-South News

11 July 2014, New York, USA | Shari Nijman - The United Nations General Assembly this week focused its attention to non-communicable diseases (NCD's), which have emerged as the world's leading cause of disability and death. Consisting mainly of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes; cancers; respiratory diseases such as asthma; and diabetes, NCD's are responsible for 38 million deaths per year,

“NCD's can push households into poverty,” Anna Lartey, Director of the Nutrition Division at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said. “ [They] can derail the current effort made in reducing hunger, poverty and undernutrition, if immediate steps are not taken to control and prevent the risk factors driving up the epidemic.”

Our world, with an aging population that increasingly adheres to an unsustainable lifestyle including excessive alcohol use, smoking and an unhealthy diet, and is experiencing rapid increase of urbanization, has been seeing a sharp increase in deaths since the year 2000.

Almost 80% of these deaths happen in developing countries, and although NCD's are historically deemed a problem of the elderly, they are now progressively seen across all ages.

“Leadership at the highest level is necessary, ”Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Health of Jamaica emphasized.”Health in all policies is necessary.”

“Low income countries face the unique triple burden of NDC's, communicable diseases and injury”, Dr. Ferguson further said.

In an effort to scale back the impact of NDC's, the international community is calling for government intervention, especially regulation regarding the four identified risk factors: Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets.

Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations called the fact that NCD's are largely preventable a “cause for optimism”. However, he stressed that: “Effective prevention and control requires reducing risk factors throughout a persons life, beginning at conception.”

“It requires multi-sectoral and whole-of-government approached to health over a range of policy area's”, McLay said.

In the battle against Non-Communicable Diseases, policy makers have a lot to learn from the fight against the spread of HIV aids, which has been ongoing for the past 30 years. “Both are not merely a health problem, but a development challenge”, Simon Bland, director of the UNAIDS New York Liaison Office explained. “Both require strong political leadership and commitment, as well as social mobilization and public support. Both are preventable, but when prevention fails require lifelong care.”

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