The United Nation’s High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), convened at UN Headquarters September 19-20, brought with it high expectations. The only previous UN General Assembly Special Sessions on a health issue had been on HIV/AIDS, with the first, in 2001, credited with helping spur the global AIDS response. NCDs – the four categories that the summit addressed being heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory illnesses – already are responsible for more than 60% deaths globally [Political Declaration, para. 14], and are the leading cause of death even in many developing countries. They are on track to be responsible for 70% of deaths in developing countries by 2020 [Abdesslam Boutayeb and Saber Boutayeb, “The Burden of Non Communicable Diseases in Developing Countries,” International Journal for Equity in Health 4(1) (2005): 2].
Until now low on the global health agenda – consider that a mere 3% of WHO’s 2010-2011 budget was programmed to address NCDs – NCDs are certainly worthy of a special session at the United Nations. The question is, will the summit mobilize a global response against NCDs?
The honest answer may be the least satisfying: time will tell. READ MORE »