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IRIN Examines Next Steps In Global Fight Against NCDs

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 news service goes on to discuss issues regarding health data collection and reporting systems, noting, “Only about two-thirds of the world’s countries have ‘vital’ registration systems that record births and deaths sufficiently to estimate death rates from various causes, according to WHO,” and writing, “Low-income countries fear the cost, and high-income countries with aid programs fear they will be expected to support low-income countries and WHO” to set up these systems where they don’t exist. It raises the issue of industry influence and conflict of interest, writing, “As WHO meets with countries to decide on targets and indicators in the coming months, multimillion-dollar industries like tobacco and alcohol will fight efforts to cut back consumption.” Lastly, IRIN notes, “Several governments have expressed concerns that a global target more ambitious than their national goals may be unachievable, but others have lauded efforts to set a global objective” (6/1).