U.N. announces establishment of task force to fight noncommunicable diseases

The U.N.'s Economic and Social Council announced on Monday that it adopted a resolution requesting the establishment of a U.N. Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases.

The World Health Organization-led task force will be created by expanding the mandate of the existing U.N. Ad Hoc Interagency Task Force on Tobacco Control. The resolution was adopted in ECOSOC's 2013 substantive session in Geneva.

The task force will coordinate U.N. organizational activities to implement the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020. The WHO estimates that three of the four leading causes of death worldwide are connected to noncommunicable diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease.

The action plan, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May, has nine voluntary global targets, including a 25 percent decrease in premature mortality from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases by 2025.

The WHO will convene a formal meeting with member states on November 13 to complete the work on a draft terms of reference for the task force.

The WHO estimates that 86 percent of deaths between the ages of 30 and 70 from NCDs occur in low- and middle-income countries, resulting in 12 million premature deaths annually. Most of the deaths are connected to common risk factors, including harmful use of alcohol, tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy diet.