Non Communicable Diseases Country Profiles

ncd-profiles130 Today, at the launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Non Communicable Disease Country Profiles (NCDs) 2014, Dr. Margaret Chan delivered an opening remark paying tribute to all countries for their determination to control NCDs, and adopted the 2011 UN Political Declaration. She released the NCD Country Profiles 2014, which provides an updated overview of the NCD situation in 194 countries. The report illustrated that while many countries have started to align their policies and resources with the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020, progress in countries has been insufficient and highly uneven, with the risk factors of tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol doubling from 2011 to 2013. Dr. Chan called for bolder and more urgent action to accelerate efforts to address NCDs. Furthermore, she addressed obese children as “warning signals” as they signify a future of chronically ill adults, and unbearable financial burdens on healthcare services.

Following, Dr. Natsag spoke about the introduction of an early cancer detection programme in her country, Mongolia. She further highlighted that there is almost 100% full primary health care coverage for the people of Mongolia.

Next, Dr. Oyarzun talked about the recently enacted laws in Chile on prohibiting the use of tobacco in specific open spaces, against driving under the influence of alcohol, and laws on monitoring the fast food market to address obesity. He claimed the laws against drinking and driving were fairly successful. Yet, he saw room for improvement concerning tobacco consumption, and he urged for the transformation of social norms.

Dr. Sahlawi spoke about the free health services in Kuwait, where the life expectancy of the population has reached 75 years. He addressed NCDs as not merely a health problem, but rather a multi-sectoral issue. It requires the involvement from ministries of health, finance and education.

Dr. Freeman talked about the importance in striking a balance between communicable and non-communicable disease prevention. He mentioned the regulations on salty foods in South Africa, and the role of media in health-education campaigns. Furthermore, approximately 330,000 girls have benefited from the recently introduced HPV vaccine in South Africa.


Meeting Title:Launch of the “World Health Organization Non Communicable Disease Country Profiles 2014”
Speakers: Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, Ms. Natsag Udval, Deputy Minister for Health of Mongolia; Dr. Jamie Burrows Oyarzun, Chile’s Under Secretary of Public Health; Dr. Khaled Al Sahlawi, The Under Secretary Health Minister of Kuwait; Professor Melvin Freeman, Ministry of Health in South Africa; Dr. Johan Carlson, Director-General of the Swedish Public Health Agency
Location: Trusteeship Council, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 10 July 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Tracy Lau
Edited By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Post-2015 Agenda

crpdTo fully implement and incorporate the provision of the Convention is indeed a long term process; it requires active cooperation and collaboration with all stakeholders, national and local authorities.  The United Nations called on Member States to review the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to exchange related experiences and achievements. Representative of Saudi Arabia started off introducing its specialized agency called ‘’Saudi Human Rights Commission” (SHRC), which monitors the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities and raises awareness on these rights. He reaffirmed the importance of strengthening international cooperation in order to optimize the benefits of persons with disabilities, enhances their self-confidence, and achieves their full partnership in their societies without any discrimination.

Similarly, Romania recently launched a new initiative called COMBAT – Counselling, employment Opportunities, changing Mentalities; eliminate Barriers, Accessibility and Training. This allows the persons with disabilities to contribute to the professional development, so as to create and consolidate a strong motivation for training and integration in the labour market. Canada also demonstrated a solid record on disability-inclusive laws, policies and initiatives to reduce barriers for persons with disabilities.

To promote inclusion and respect for diversity for all, Canada suggested a new development framework – prioritize poverty eradication and address the most marginalized first. Canada does invest on persons with disabilities, which mainly focuses on traditional health interventions, as well as inclusive education, community-based rehabilitation and access to employment. Speaking about inclusion, the first ever Iranian female gold medallist in Paralympics, Zahra Nemati was present at the meeting today. Representative of Iran shared Zahra’s story, she competed in Taekwondo before her paralysis. Her story not only inspires women and girls in Iran, but also all around the world. “Hope is the torch of life, never surrender to obstacles”, she said.

Meeting Title: Incorporating the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda
Speakers: Representative of Saudi Arabia; Representative of Romania; Representative of Canada; Representative of Iran; Representative of Qatar; Representative of Chile; Representative of Nicaragua
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 4
Date: 11 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong

Global Health 2035: A World Converging within a Generation

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 15 January 2014

The Permanent Mission of Norway and The Lancet Commission on Investing in Health hosted an event at the UN headquarters titled, “Towards a Grand Convergence in Global Health: What Convergence Means for Health after 2015.” Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Rwanda to the UN, replaced the Permanent Representative of Norway and gave introductory remarks. She said that health is one of the top priorities and goals on the post 2015 agenda. She noted that the report produced by an independent group of commissioners from the Lancet commission on investing in health analyzes why we should be leaning towards a grand convergence in global health.


Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and one of the 25 commissioners of the report, introduced the panel. She said that the world diverged in many different ways 200 years after the industrial revolution. The Lancet report, she said, is an independent academic analysis of how to narrow the gap and bring the world back to convergence. The report highlighted that dedicated and targeted investments into the health systems can bring low and middle income countries like Chile, China, Costa Rica and Cuba to a point where their mortality rates are quite similar to most developed countries. Such investment in the health sector, Dr. Kruk said, “will not only bring great health outcomes but also vibrant economic growth because people will be productive.”

Dr. Gavin Yamey, one of the report’s lead authors, highlighted the four key findings of the report. It says that a grand convergence in global health can be achieved within our lifetimes. The commissioners found, from their analyses, that the returns from investing in health are enormous. The report also suggested that fiscal policies, particularly tobacco taxation, are very powerful for curbing non-communicable diseases and injuries. Fourth finding is that pro-poor pathways are an efficient and fair way to achieve both health and financial protection.

H.E. Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda, said that Rwanda is one of the rare countries which are going to achieve their MDGs. She said that “we have prepared the country by managing the communicable diseases to be ready for non-communicable diseases.” Dr. Ariel Pablos Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID, said that the international donor community needs to engage the lower and middle income countries in new ways and encourage them to mobilize their own domestic resources. Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, ended the presentations with a quote saying, “If we do not create the future, the present extends itself.”

Meeting Title: Towards A Grand Convergence in Global Health: What Convergence Means for Health after 2015

Key Speakers: Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Rwanda to the UN; Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; Dr. Gavin Yamey, Lead, Evidence-to-Policy Initiative, Global Health Group, University of California, San Francisco; H.E. Dr. Agnès Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda; Dr. Ariel Pablos Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID; Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India.

Written by WIT intern: Shan Cheema