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UN Meeting Tackles NCDs

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September 29, 2011

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for an estimated 36 million of the 57 million deaths worldwide every year, including 9 million deaths in people under age 60, and nearly 80% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Now the United Nations is taking aim at the problem.

In a high level meeting on NCD prevention and control in New York City Sept. 19–20, the UN issued a draft declaration targeting four common groups of NCDs—cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease—with the hopes influencing the underlying socio-economic problems that lead to or exacerbate these conditions.

The declaration, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly, covers a range of topics, from the need for increased physical activity to better workplace safety and universal health coverage.

In terms of respiratory conditions, the report emphasizes that smoke exposure from the use of inefficient cooking stoves for indoor cooking or heating contributes to and may exacerbate lung and respiratory conditions, and specifically notes the role tobacco plays in causing many NCDs in developed and developing nations alike.

Part of the problem, continues the document, lies in a conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health, and part of the solution will require member states to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and accede to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Ensuring tobacco free workplaces will also be critical to success.

The UN is calling on governments, industry, and organizations to set up plans to combat the risk factors for NCDs by 2013.

Stay tuned for more about the UN’s NCD initiatives in an upcoming issue of AARC Times.