World leaders on Tuesday “pledged to take wide-ranging action to prevent millions of deaths from cancer, diabetes, and heart and lung disease by tackling the key causes — smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise and unhealthy diets dominated by fast food,” but the “declaration approved at the first-ever General Assembly meeting on chronic diseases which ended Tuesday left unanswered the question of coordinating an international response to what the leaders called “a challenge of epidemic proportions,” the Associated Press/CBS News reports.
Non Communicable Disease/Chronic Disease
“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.”
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).
In this Foreign Policy Association blog post, freelance writer Julia Robinson calls for individuals to start demanding more action on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), writing, “It is possible to have stronger responses to NCDs” than those presented in the political declaration that resulted from last month’s U.N. High-level Meeting (HLM) on…
“Cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases and diabetes — four of the biggest killers among the group together known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs) — have emerged as one of the greatest social and economic development challenges of this century,” George Alleyne, director emeritus of PAHO, and Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Affairs at the Department of Health & Human Services and the U.S. representative on the WHO’s Executive Board, write in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “On the first anniversary of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs where the world formally acknowledged the urgent need for action on these under-recognized diseases, it makes sense to assess how far we’ve come, as well as how much further we need to go,” they continue, adding, “During the past 12 months, health workers, policymakers and activists rallied around the High-Level Meeting to build a robust civil society movement, which has continued to gather momentum.”
In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, Johanna Ralston, chief executive of the World Heart Federation, and Ann Keeling, chief executive of the International Diabetes Federation, argue non-communicable diseases (NCDs) must be part of any new global development goals, writing, “NCDs and their risk factors worsen poverty, while poverty contributes to rising rates of NCDs, posing a threat to sustainable development.” They continue, “In 2000, world leaders drafting the millennium development goals (MDGs) addressed many of the great development challenges, but they made one serious mistake: they omitted any mention of NCDs, which together cause nearly two out of three deaths in the world (80 percent of those in developing countries).”
“A new way to screen poor women for cervical cancer was introduced this month in El Salvador, using a test that was originally developed in China,” the New York Times reports. “The new test, called careHPV and made by Qiagen, a Dutch company, is a swab test for the DNA of the papillomaviruses that cause cancer,” the newspaper writes, noting a study published in the Lancet Oncology in 2008 found the test “was more than twice as sensitive” than the alternate method of “shining a light on the cervix and painting it with vinegar, which reveals precancerous lesions that can then be burned off with liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide.” According to the New York Times, “The test worked even when women inserted the swabs themselves, which can be done at home and so is easier and faster than having them go to a clinic for visual inspections” (McNeil, 9/24).
“Some academics and non-profit organizations are skeptical of the motives of the increasing number of multinational companies who seek partnerships to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs),” Derek Yach, senior vice president of global health and agriculture policy at PepsiCo and former head of NCDs at WHO, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. He asks, “So how well is the private sector doing in tackling the rising pandemic of NCDs, which cause nearly two out of every three deaths in the world (80 percent of those in developing countries), the four main ones being cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes?” He continues, “The private sector is a major stakeholder in many ways — as employers; makers of food and medicines, sports gear and technology; as corporate citizens and consumers — and wants to be engaged in the global NCD dialogue. We deserve a seat at the table.”
“About 200 million people around the world use illegal drugs every year, and that may be taking a toll on health and death rates in various countries, says a report released Thursday in the Lancet,” the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog reports. According to the blog, “[t]he study, part of a series the journal is doing on addiction, offers a plethora of information about [the] use of opioids, amphetamines, cocaine and marijuana worldwide” (Stein, 1/5).
“In 2012 there will be a major strategic shift in global health, away from development and towards sustainability,” a Lancet editorial states. “Since 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), driven by a macroeconomic diagnosis of global poverty, have focused on investment in a small number of diseases as the most effective approach to decrease poverty, … [b]ut this approach is now delivering diminishing returns,” because of emerging challenges such as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), climate change, and financial security, as well as a heightened focus on integration and accountability, the editorial says.