PlusNews examines how health officials are addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in sub-Saharan Africa, where “[c]ountries grappling with HIV prevalence are now faced with rising epidemics of chronic diseases.”
Non Communicable Disease/Chronic Disease
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).
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.
“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).
“Africa faces a surge in cancer deaths unless action is taken in the next decade to stem rising smoking levels in a continent where anti-tobacco laws remain rare, U.S. scientists said Wednesday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 11/11).
With the disease burden of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria expected to make up less than 15 percent of the total disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by 2030, and non-communicable diseases to account for nearly 40 percent of the total in the region, “[a] revision of the approach to research and health care in SSA is therefore urgently needed, but international donors and health communities have generally been slow to respond to the changing environment,” Ole Olesen and M. Iqbal Parker of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in South Africa write in a commentary in Tropical Medicine & International Health. “Private and public funding for health research in Africa remains therefore disproportionately focused on the three major infectious diseases, whereas only smaller amounts have been allocated to confront other diseases,” they write and provide examples.
IRIN examines the next steps in fighting non-communicable diseases (NCDs), “the leading cause of death worldwide,” noting, “The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO), aims to reduce preventable deaths from [NCDs] like diabetes, heart attacks and strokes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancers, by 25 percent by 2025.” According to IRIN, “WHO is coordinating negotiations on the surveillance, indicators and voluntary targets that will form an eventual global plan to fight NCDs, and is drafting recommendations to be considered by member governments in October 2012.” IRIN provides a link to a WHO summary of “recent discussions [.pdf] with civil society and government representatives on the best ways to rein in NCDs, and how to measure progress.”
The June issue of the WHO Bulletin includes an editorial on the management of non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries; a public health round-up; an article on anti-smoking measures and tobacco consumption in Turkey; and a research paper on mortality in women in Burkina Faso in the years following obstetric complications (June 2012).
In this post in Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH) “Global Health Impact” blog, Sara Holtz, a senior technical officer at MSH, reports on the 53-page outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last week. She highlights several health-related commitments…