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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).

While the 2001 meeting on AIDS “led the U.S. and other countries to spend billions of dollars to put patients in the developing world on lifesaving drugs … [f]ew are expecting massive infusions of aid now to combat chronic killers in developing countries, given the troubled global economy and pressure on wealthy nations to step up donations for AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases,” the Wall Street Journal writes, adding, “Nor are specific targets and timelines for reducing deaths or rates of chronic disease expected this week, after disagreements among countries in recent months over what targets to set, how to reach them, and whether to link them to development aid” (McKay, 9/19).

“The draft document for the U.N. meeting recognizes ‘prevention must be the cornerstone of the global response,'” but “there are no firm commitments to cut the number of deaths from chronic diseases or promises to bankroll efforts to combat the problem,” according to the Associated Press/CBSNews.com (9/18). PBS NewsHour’s blog “The Rundown” notes the 14-page, 57-point document, which “has already been agreed upon by country representatives,” “does not include any hard targets but outlines an approach to preventing the growth of the conditions and pushes for better access to treatment” (Miller, 9/16). “Instead, health leaders have committed to adopting targets by the end of 2012 and are aiming this week to formulate policies to slash smoking, reduce intake of salty, sugary and fatty foods, improve screening and treatment of diseases and delivery of low-cost medicines, among other measures,” the Wall Street Journal reports (9/19).

“The issue has divided political leaders, according to earlier versions of the 12-page declaration drafted Sept. 7 for debate in New York that were obtained by Bloomberg News,” according to the news agency. “On one side stands the U.S. and Western Europe, home to many of the companies that make the food, alcohol and cigarettes. On the other are emerging economies such as India and Brazil that have surging rates of diabetes and heart disease attributed to the consumption and marketing of some of these companies’ products,” Bloomberg writes (Gale/Stanford, 9/16).  The Guardian notes that targets that did not make the draft document include a recommendation by the WHO to cut preventable deaths by 25 percent by 2025, as well as specific measures to reduce salt consumption and control tobacco use (9/16).