Tag Archives: Millenium Development Goals

Optimism About UN Noncommunicable Disease Summit

The noncommunicable disease community is unlikely to get everything it was hoping for out of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs next week, but its leading spokesperson is upbeat nonetheless. “Even if nothing happens in New York, the fact that people are aware of diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases … that there will be a political declaration – a political statement – coming out of New York stating that diabetes and other NCDs are serious, is an achievement in itself,” International Diabetes Federation president Jean Claude Mbanya said at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Dr. Jean Claude Mbanya / Photo by Miriam E. Tucker

The upcoming 5th edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas, to be released on November 14th – World Diabetes Day – will include the data that there are 366 million people living with diabetes and 4.6 million deaths due to diabetes – one death every 7 seconds – at a cost of $465 billion spent on diabetes care. In contrast, the last IDF Diabetes Atlas, released in 2009, put the prevalence figure at 285 million. “The cost of not doing something about diabetes is more than the benefit,” said Dr. Mbanya, who noted that IDF is releasing those few figures in advance of the UN NCD summit because “We don’t want the world leaders to forget about diabetes, which is the tsunami of the 21st century.”

In the Political Declaration, which will probably not change during the UN meeting, member states have agreed to establishing NCD plans and policies that create partnerships, to reducing salts and sugars and eliminate industrially produced trans fats in all foods, to increase access to affordable, quality-assured medicines and technologies, to strengthen health care systems to include integration of NCD prevention and treatment, and to increase resources for NCDs. The document also contains an agreement to develop a comprehensive global monitoring framework for NCDs in 2012, and a set of voluntary global targets and indicators.

Items that IDF and the NCD Alliance had pushed for that didn’t make it into the Declaration because of opposition based primarily on budgetary concerns included the specific target of a 25% reduction of NCD deaths by 2025, and a requirement for monitoring. “We think we need targets and measurements. What gets measured is what gets done,” Dr. Mbanya commented.

But, the UN summit isn’t the last step. There will be another evaluation in 2014, just in advance of the scheduled 2015 revision of the Millennium Development Goals. Because many countries base funding decisions on the MDGs, inclusion of NCDs there would be another huge step forward, he said.

For now though, “just getting heads of states to hold a summit on NCDs is an achievement in itself. This will be only the second summit on health after [the 2001 summit on HIV/AIDS]. So, we have achieved something. We have attracted the world’s attention.”

-Miriam E. Tucker (@MiriamETucker on Twitter)

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Noncommunicable Disease Achieves Summit Status

UN General Assembly Hall photo by Luke Redmond, Flickr Creative Commons

International nongovernmental health organizations are celebrating the United Nations General Assembly’s May 13th decision to hold a special summit on non-communicable disease in September 2011.

The summit has been a major priority for the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the World Heart Federation, the International Union Against Cancer, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, which have campaigned together for it. These diseases are responsible for 35 million annual deaths globally, 80% of which occur in low- to middle-income countries.

There have been only 28 such special UNGA summits (formerly called “special sessions”) in UN history. The one on HIV/AIDS in 2001 significantly influenced political action for that crisis. To this point, noncommunicable disease has not been considered a world health priority and is not included in the Millenium Development Goals, despite increasing evidence that chronic conditions threaten economic development as well as health in the developing world.

The idea for the NCD summit is credited to former IDF President Dr. Martin Silink. I interviewed Dr. Silink last July. He said that such a high-level session would be the best way to communicate to world governing bodies the profound threat of the NCDs and the need for political action to combat them.

Dr. Martin Silink photo courtesy of the International Diabetes Federation

“This is a development issue affecting so many countries. The development of health systems is so dependent on donor country support that donor countries must also help to drive the agenda…We feel this can only be truly understood if there’s time to debate it properly. A special session would be the right forum to do this.”

Ultimately, he said, the aim is to improve care for people living with chronic conditions, but not in the same way as has been done with HIV/AIDS. “What we are not calling for is a new vertical system as has been established for HIV/AIDS. We are calling for the strengthening and development of primary health care systems, and to have the NCDs inserted into those systems.”

—Miriam E. Tucker (@MiriamETucker on Twitter)
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Filed under Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Family Medicine, Health Policy, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Oncology, Primary care, Pulmonary Diseases and Sleep Medicine