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Global Trade Negotiations Must Consider Inequalities In Access To Medicines

Some of the issues to be addressed at the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) taking place this week in New York “are controversial, including those relating to intellectual property rights for new medicines, diagnostics and medical devices,” James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, writes in an Al Jazeera opinion piece. “By continuing to assert that the Doha Declaration is in fact limited in various ways, U.S. and European trade negotiators have tried to discourage the granting of compulsory licenses on patents for high-priced drugs for cancer and other non-communicable diseases,” he continues, before outlining a proposal called the “cancer prize approach” that would de-link drug prices from research and development incentives.

World Leaders Unanimously Approve NCD Political Declaration

World leaders attending the first-ever U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) kicked off the summit on Monday by “unanimously approving a ‘political declaration’ meant to stem a rising tide of [NCDs], now the world’s leading killer,” CNN reports (Ariosto, 9/19). The declaration “call[s] for a multi-pronged campaign by governments, industry and civil society to set up by 2013 the plans needed to curb the risk factors behind the four groups of NCDs — cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes,” according to the U.N. News Centre.

USAID Launches 'FWD' Campaign To Raise Awareness Of Famine, Drought In Horn Of Africa

The PBS NewsHour blog “The Rundown” features an interview with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, in which he discusses a new website initiative called “FWD,” “aimed at giving viewers a better sense of the scope of the famine in the Horn of Africa — its worst in more than 60 years.” The site includes infographics and data maps “intended to contextualize the problem by showing the recent increase in food prices, where internally displaced peoples camps are located, and where various aid groups are operating,” according to the blog (Epatko, 9/20).

U.S. Entities Announce Global Smoke-Free Workplace Challenge

“The Mayo Clinic, Johnson & Johnson and others are joining forces to try to snuff out smoking in the workplace throughout the world,” the Wall Street Journal’s “Health Blog” writes, adding, “Their global smoke-free worksite challenge, announced today at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, calls on employers to ban smoking at offices and facilities worldwide.” The blog notes, “Smoky offices seem like a thing of the past in much of the U.S. … But globally, only about 11 percent of people are protected by comprehensive national smoke-free laws, the WHO says.”

Commercial Interests Confound Fight Against NCDs, Some Experts Say

The Washington Post examines the influence of commercial interests on the “political declaration” that emerged from this week’s U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in New York. NCDs “are the globe’s biggest health problem, responsible for 63 percent of all deaths each year, with incidence growing steeply in the low-income, rapidly urbanizing nations of the world,” but they “are deeply entangled with important global industries, not only tobacco but also food, pharmaceuticals, advertising, transportation and construction,” the newspaper writes, adding, “The bigger issue in preparing the document, however, was how much to invoke the … World Trade Organization’s agreement on intellectual property, known informally as TRIPS” (Brown, 9/20).

Some Fear Industry Interests Are Stalling Negotiations On U.N. NCD Summit, BMJ Reports

“In the run up to the U.N. summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), there are fears that industry interests might be trumping evidence-based public health interventions,” BMJ reports. “Many hope that this meeting will force [NCDs] into the spotlight just as the first health-related U.N. summit did for AIDS a decade ago,” but “[w]ith only weeks to go before the summit … [d]iscussions have stopped on the document that forms the spine of the summit,” BMJ writes.

NCD Summit Negotiations Must Get Back On Track To Help Millions Worldwide

With negotiations over the outcomes for the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) stalled, “[i]t is feared that sound proposals for clear goals and timelines to tackle these devastating diseases are being systematically deleted, diluted and downgraded by some U.N. Member States and urgent action is needed to put the negotiations back on track, when they recommence on September 1,” Rob Moodie, chair of Global Health at the Nossal Institute of Global Health, writes in the Crikey health blog “Croakey.”

U.N. Member States Must Face Health, Economic Impacts Of NCDs

In this Huffington Post opinion piece outlining many facts and statistics surrounding non-communicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide, Susan Blumenthal, public health editor of the Huffington Post and former assistant surgeon general, along with Katherine Warren and Lauren Macherelli, who previously worked at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, where Blumenthal is director of the health and medicine program, write, “The world is at a crossroads when it comes to the chronic disease epidemic and its enormous health and economic impacts.”