Foreign Affairs on Tuesday published an analysis examining the history of negotiations behind the political declaration approved on Monday by leaders attending the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Non Communicable Disease/Chronic Disease
The Washington Post reports on an event hosted last week by Washington Post Live, the division of the newspaper that organizes forums and debates, which brought together a number of attendees of the U.N. summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) wrapping up today in New York, as well as other key thinkers on global health, to discuss curbing the rise of NCDs. The newspaper includes links to commentary from several attendees at the event, including Julio Frenk, dean of faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health; Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Health Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services ; Ann Keeling, chief executive of the International Diabetes Federation and chair of the NCD Alliance; and Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, and director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, among others.
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.
The New York Times describes how, as the U.N. begins its meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Chinese and Indian generic drug makers “say they are on the verge of selling cheaper copies” of costly biotech medications used to treat cancers, diabetes, arthritis and other chronic illnesses. “Their entry into the market in the next year — made possible by hundreds of millions of dollars invested in biotechnology plants — could not only transform the care of patients in much of the world but also ignite a counterattack by major pharmaceutical companies and diplomats from richer countries,” the newspaper writes.
Low-income countries “could introduce measures to prevent and treat millions of cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and lung disease for a little as $1.20 per person per year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday” in a report released on the eve of the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) taking place this week in New York, Reuters reports (Kelland, 9/19).
NCD Draft Declaration Lacks Specific Targets, Calls For Nations To Adopt Recommendations For Reducing Chronic Disease Deaths
“World leaders at a meeting of the United Nations on Monday will agree to a deal to try to curb the spread of preventable ‘lifestyle’ diseases,” including heart disease, cancers and diabetes, also known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), “amid concern that progress is already being hampered by powerful lobbyists from the food, alcohol and tobacco industries,” the Guardian reports. “The scale and disastrous potential of these diseases has led the U.N. to call only its second high-level summit on a health issue on Monday — the first was over AIDS in 2001. Months of negotiation have led to a draft declaration [.pdf] that will be signed at the summit,” the newspaper writes (Boseley, 9/16).
David Watkins, a resident physician in the Department of Medicine and the Internal Medicine Global Health Pathway at the University of Washington, and Jim LoGerfo, a professor of Medicine and Global Health at the university, write in a Seattle Times opinion piece, “A new pandemic has emerged and is beginning to overshadow all others,” adding, “The chronic-disease pandemic will be the ‘face’ of global health in the coming decades … an insidious pandemic for those who are affected, causing slow and subtle declines in health over years.” They write, “In addition to providing cost-effective medicines for hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, the prevention of cases will be our greatest challenge. Chronic diseases require large public-health interventions and improvements to primary health-care systems” (9/15).
“A group of public health organizations said on Friday they were concerned that industries selling fatty foods, alcohol and cigarettes could hijack a United Nations meeting on how to tackle chronic disease in order to protect their own interests,” Reuters reports. “In a letter to the Lancet medical journal, more than 140 international health organizations and campaign groups said the United Nations should ensure industry lobby groups are not able to manipulate the September 19-20 meeting and its outcome,” writing, “There are clear conflicts for the corporations that contribute to and profit from the sales of alcoholic beverages, foods with high fat, salt, and sugar contents, and tobacco products — all of which are important causes of [non-communicable diseases (NCDs)],” according to the news service (Kelland, 9/15).
“The number of cases and deaths from breast and cervical cancer is rising in most countries across the world, especially in poorer nations where more women are dying at younger ages, according to a global study of the diseases” by researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Reuters reports. Between 1980 and 2010, breast cancer cases more than doubled worldwide, rising from 641,000 cases in 1980 to 1.6 million cases in 2010, while deaths from breast cancer rose from 250,000 a year to 425,000 a year, according to the study, which was published in the Lancet on Thursday, Reuters notes. The “number of cervical cancer cases rose from 378,000 cases in 1980 to 454,000 in 2010, and deaths from cervical cancer rose at almost the same pace as cases,” the news service writes (Kelland, 9/15). The majority of new cases occurred among women under age 50 in low-income nations, BBC News writes (Briggs, 9/14).
In this Atlantic opinion piece, Amanda Glassman, director of Global Health Policy at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Denizhan Duran, a research assistant at CGD, outline the macro- and microeconomic effects non-communicable diseases (NCDs) can have on countries and families, noting that “80 percent of NCD deaths occur in developing countries, mostly the middle-income countries.” However, they write that NCDs “can be substantially reduced with simple, low or no-cost interventions,” but “middle-income countries are not implementing these simple interventions at scale” for reasons that “have little to do with money.”