UNDP administrator calls for permanent spotlight on noncommunicable diseases

Helen Clark

Helen Clark, the administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said on Monday that noncommunicable diseases should be on everyone’s agenda to reach a target set by the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization released a framework for achieving nine global targets by 2025 last week, including a 25 percent reduction in premature mortality from NCDs. Clark made a statement at the London launch of an NCD-themed edition of The Lancet, according to Devex.com.

“By placing NCDs permanently on the global development agenda, people’s lives, opportunities, and future prospects will improve – thereby advancing sustainable human development overall,” Clark said, according to Devex.com. “Global leadership on health lies with the World Health Organization. But development actors like UNDP can offer important support for building capacities in-country for stronger health systems and for multisectoral approaches to addressing major health challenges. This includes action on preventing and combating NCDs.”

The most common NCDs are heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. Clark said that development actors can help countries to improve their health services by finding ways to integrate NCDs into development planning, creating health-promoting environments, strengthening the capacity of governments to act and improving surveillance.

Other NCD-related targets in the WHO’s framework include a 10 percent reduction in harmful use of alcohol, a 10 percent reduction in physical inactivity, a 30 percent reduction in salt intake, a 30 percent reduction in tobacco use, a 25 percent reduction in raised blood pressure, 50 percent coverage of drug therapy and counseling, 80 percent coverage of essential NCD medicines and technologies, and a zero percent increase in diabetes and obesity.

The UNDP and the WHO are scheduled to hold a workshop later this month in Fiji about the impact trade agreements can have on the battle against NCDs, Devex.com reports.

“The aim is to identify strategies to align trade agreements with public health concerns, particularly those relating to NCDs,” Clark said, according to Devex.com.

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