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Global Response To NCDs Has Gained Momentum Over Past Year

“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.”

Alleyne and Daulaire highlight two studies from 2011 that they say “opened the world’s eyes to the cost of NCDs,” and note that “in May 2012, at the annual meeting of health ministers at WHO, all countries agreed to … a 25 percent reduction in mortality from NCDs by year 2025” and that the Rio+20 Declaration includes NCDs as well.” However, “[d]espite this progress, much more remains to be done, and it needs to be done urgently,” they write. “Looking ahead, we recognize that in these harsh economic times governments may have difficulty prioritizing NCDs in their health and development agendas,” but “it is important to continue to acknowledge that both the causes and consequences of NCDs extend far beyond the health sector,” they state, concluding, “Success — whether it comes from creating policies or environments that support healthy choices or encouraging individual behavior change — depends on our abilities to make the necessary changes — and we can” (9/12).