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WHO announces high level commission to fight NCDs
March 4, 2018, 1:21 pm

World Health Organization (WHO) announced the formation of the first-ever Independent Global High-level Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to identify and propose “bold and practical ways to curb the world’s leading causes of death and illness.

The Commission announced by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on 16 February, will recommend actions to accelerate progress in tackling NCDs, primarily cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and respiratory disease, and promoting mental health and well-being.

“Everybody deserves the right to a healthy life,” said Dr. Tedros while announcing the new Commission, “We can beat the drivers of the NCD epidemic, which are among the world’s main obstacles to health. I am looking to the Commission to show us new ways to unblock the barriers to good health, and identify innovative, bold and practical actions steps to scale up prevention and treatment of NCDs and provide health for all.”

The proposed co-chairs of the Commission are the President of Uruguay Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, the President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena, Minister of Social Affairs and Health of Finland Pirkko Mattila, Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation, and former Federal Minister of Pakistan and civil society leader D. Sania Nishtar.

The need to accelerate action to beat NCDs is high on the global political agenda in 2018, with world leaders expected to participate in the third United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on NCDs.

Over 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 69 are killed each year by NCDs. Low- and lower-middle income countries are particularly affected by NCDs with almost 50 percent of premature deaths from NCDs occurring in these countries. In addition, NCDs are responsible for the deaths of 7 in 10 people across all ages globally, equivalent to approximately 40 million people.

In 2015, world leaders committed to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by one third by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Recent WHO reports indicate that the world will struggle to meet that target.

 “NCDs are the world’s leading avoidable killers but the world is not doing enough to prevent and control them,” said Dr. Vázquez. “We have to ask ourselves if we want to condemn future generations from dying too young and living lives of ill health and lost opportunity. The answer clearly is ‘no.’ But there is so much we can do to safeguard and care for people, from protecting everyone from tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy foods and sugary drinks, to giving people the health services they need to stop NCDs in their tracks,” added the Uruguay President.

The WHO Global Ambassador for NCDs and Commission member Michael R. Bloomberg said: “For the first time in history, more people are dying of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, than infectious diseases. This loss of human life spares no one, rich or poor, young or old, and it imposes heavy economic costs on nations. 

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