Noncommunicable Disease Alliance Fights to Retain Goals

The international noncommunicable disease movement has hit a snag. Negotiations have been delayed in drafting the official Political Declaration for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, scheduled for Sept. 19-20. The main issue, according to the NCD Alliance, a lobbying coalition of global NCD-related organizations, is that the United States, Canada, and the European Union are blocking proposals for the inclusion of the specific goal of cutting by 25% all preventable deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease by 2025.

Arnaldo Pomodoro's "Sphere within Sphere" sculpture at UN Headquarters in New York/ Photo by Miriam E. Tucker

In a statement, the alliance said “The situation is urgent. Yet, it is reported that sound proposals for the draft Declaration to include time-bound commitments and targets are being systematically deleted, diluted and downgraded.” The alliance has sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to express “grave concern at the current state of preparations” for the high-meeting, which is to be only the second-ever such UN meeting focusing on a global health issue. The first one, on HIV/AIDS in 2001, is credited with spurring global political, social, and financial action to address that problem.

According to the alliance, language about “action-oriented outcomes” is being replaced with “vague intentions” to “consider” and “work towards” NCD reduction goals, moves they deem “simply unacceptable.” Along with the 2025 goal, the letter reiterates previous demands that UN member states must develop a set of specific, evidence-based targets and global indicators, a clear time line for tackling the epidemic of the four major NCDs, and “a high-level collaborative initiative of government and UN agencies with civil society to stimulate and assess progress.”

In an interview with Reuters, NCD chair Ann Keeling said that money was the main sticking point, with wealthier nations reluctant to commit to paying for chronic disease care in poor countries at a time when even “rich” economies are in a downturn. Indeed, the sum is considerable, as NCDs now account for 63% of all deaths worldwide and half of all global disability, posing a serious threat to development in many lower-income nations. “The reason we called for a UN summit in the first place was to move toward a global action plan…The world is essentially sleepwalking into a sick future,” said Ms. Keeling, who is also chief executive officer of the International Diabetes Federation.

Negotiations on the Political Declaration are set to resume Sept. 1. In the meantime, the IDF has recently launched a postcard campaign urging President Obama to attend the high-level meeting, which is expected to draw heads of state from many UN member nations. The IDF has also organized a rally - with the support of several U.S.-based diabetes organizations and bloggers and other international NCD-related groups - to be held in New York City’s Central Park on Sunday, Sept. 18 to raise public awareness about the worldwide impact of NCDs.

-Miriam E. Tucker (@MiriamETucker on Twitter)

1 Comment

Filed under Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Family Medicine, Health Policy, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Oncology, Pediatrics, Primary care, Pulmonary Diseases and Sleep Medicine, Uncategorized

One response to “Noncommunicable Disease Alliance Fights to Retain Goals

  1. Miriam, thank you for this story and for spreading the word on this unacceptable turn of events. Sleepwalking into a sick future is not something I want to do.

    I’ve sent my postcards, and have signed the letter, and have tweeted over and over again about this (thank you Manny for coordinating so much). Not sure if I can get myself to New York for the rally, but I’m trying hard.

    It’s all very frustrating being a part of the group that nobody cares enough about to help. How am I supposed to keep a brave face about my daily battles with type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disorder) when my very own government won’t step up to the plate?

    That’s not even getting into the issue of children dying because they can’t get insulin, a treatment that was made available to the world in the early 1920′s. I am outraged.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s