UN Discusses Non Communicable Diseases


The issue of Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) is a major growing challenge to development. With this notion in mind, delegates from all over the world discussed how far the UN has come in the battle against NCDs and collaborated on effective solutions for stakeholders to help accelerate the process. The September 2011 Declaration for NCDs was frequently mentioned as member states highlighted that, although progress has been made, more action needs to occur. A shared sense of urgency and motivation was evident throughout the General Assembly as delegates reaffirmed the severity of the problem at hand.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Health Organization Director General Dr. Margaret Chan emphasized the necessity of uniting stakeholders from every level and tailoring an agreement to account for all member states’ needs. The UN as a whole must incorporate the issue of NCDs as a major priority while encouraging commitment from state and non-state sectors and accounting for the poorer nations that have been hit hardest by the NCD epidemic. Private sectors can play a significant role by refraining from promotion of unhealthy foods and substances while marketing healthier products, because obesity has been worsening over the past three decades. Not only do governments need to implement stronger prevention policies, there must be sweeping changes in the mindset of public health. Analyzing our current generation, Dr. Chan noted that as incomes rise and standard of living improves, the rise of NCDs occurs because unhealthy lifestyles are being promoted during the process.  

Representatives of health departments from nations including Bolivia, Columbia, Jamaica, Mexico, Mongolia and Argentina discussed the progress their countries have seen after the implementation of the 2011 declaration. They have also expressed their continued commitment to the battle against NCDs. This morning session on NCDs set the stage for further debate and inquiry regarding a unified plan for prevention. 

Meeting Title: General Assembly Meeting on Non Communicable Diseases (Morning Session)
Location: General Assembly Overflow Room (NLB 4), United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 10 July 2014
Summary Written By WIT Representative: Suzy Hallak

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