a civil society alliance for combatting chronic disease in the caribbean

Healthy Caribbean Coalition - The UN Meeting: Addressing four questions

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The Lancet recently published an article that presents several key questions that need to be addressed if the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs is to live up to its potential. The High-Level Meeting in September presents an opportunity to incite a coordinated global effort against NCDs - specifically heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease - and begin action toward a solution. In order to achieve the desired results for NCD action from the High-Level Meeting, the following four questions must be addressed:

Is there really a global NCD crisis?

Almost two-thirds of all deaths worldwide are attributed to NCDs, with over 36 million NCD deaths every year, and over 22 million of these deaths come from the poorest countries. NCDs are the major health issue in all countries, affecting women and men equally, and causing 63% of premature adult deaths.

How is the NCD a development issue?

NCDs not only affect health, but also increase poverty and threaten human, social, environmental, and economic development. NCDs cause and increase poverty through medical treatment costs, reduction in family resources, and loss of employment, while also increasing economic burdens for the countries and health systems.

Are affordable cost-effective interventions available in poor countries?

By adopting just a few cost-effective and feasible interventions, 23 million deaths over 10 years in 23 low- and middle-income countries can be achieved at a cost of US$1.20 to US$2.40 per person per year. Through accelerating the full implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, including programs to reduce salt intake and promote healthy diets and physical activity, and delivering generic multidrug treatment to people at high risk of NCD, millions of unnecessary deaths can be prevented.

Do we really need high-level leadership, commitment, and accountability?

Sustained and strong leadership at both the national and international level is needed to commit to the long-term prevention and treatment of NCDs. An agreement among several different groups on a time frame and outcome goal with clear rules and regulations should be implemented, while a form of monitoring and reviewing of all progress and commitments by partners would need to be in place.

A short-term success depends on Heads of State and governments attending the High-Level Meeting and endorsing and implementing the ideas into action. Long-term success relies on committed national and international leadership in order to make a lasting improvement to health.

"UN High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases: addressing four questions" R Beaglehole, R Bonita, G Alleyne, R Horton, et al. The Lancet 2011; published online 13 June 2011 (open access) http://bit.ly/l3h28b. Two-page summary of the article: http://bit.ly/ihkua9