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UN-backed conference adopts declaration on non-communicable diseases

UN-backed conference adopts declaration on non-communicable diseases

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Health ministers from around the world meeting under the auspices of the United Nations today adopted measures to strengthen the fight against the non-communicable diseases, including the promotion of healthy lifestyles and encouraging a multi-sectoral approach to prevention and treatment of the illnesses.

In the Moscow Declaration, delegates to the First Global Ministerial Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Noncommunicable Disease Control, held in the Russian capital, stressed that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – mainly heart conditions, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases – are the leading causes of preventable morbidity and disability.

The diseases currently cause more than 60 per cent of global deaths, 80 per cent of which occur in developing countries, the delegates to the conference, organized by the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and Russian Government, pointed out. It is projected that the diseases will to 75 per cent of worldwide deaths by 2030, they added.

“Many countries are now facing extraordinary challenges from the double burden of disease: communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases,” the ministers said in their declaration.

“This requires adapting health systems and health policies, and a shift from disease-centred to people-centred approaches and population health measures. Vertical initiatives are insufficient to meet complex population needs, so integrated solutions that engage a range of disciplines and sectors are needed. Strengthening health systems in this way results in improved capacity to respond to a range of diseases and conditions.”

The Moscow Declaration stresses that evidence-based and cost-effective interventions exist to prevent and control NCDs at global, regional, national and local levels, giving the example of measures to control tobacco use, reduce salt intake and reduce the harmful use of alcohol.

Particular attention should be paid to the promotion of healthy diets, including low consumption of saturated fats, trans-fats, salt and sugar, high consumption of fruits and vegetables, and physical activity in all aspects of daily living, according to the declaration.

Effective NCD prevention and control requires the active and informed participation and leadership of individuals, families and communities, civil society organizations, the private sector, employers, health care providers and the international community, it adds.

The declaration also calls for the implementation of effective policies for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases at national and global levels, including those relevant to achieving the goals of the 2008-2013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, the WHO Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol, and the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.

At the international level, the declaration calls upon WHO and all other relevant UN system agencies and other key international organizations to work together in a coordinated manner to address NCDs.

It calls for the consideration of possible means to facilitate the access of low- and middle income countries to affordable, safe, effective and high quality medicines for the treatment and control of NCDs, based on needs and resource assessments.

“With a view to securing an ambitious and sustainable outcome, we commit to actively engaging with all relevant sectors of government, on the basis of this Moscow Declaration, in the preparation of and the follow-up to the United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of NCDs in September 2011 in New York.”