Noncommunicable Disease to Take Center Stage in Upcoming UN Summit

The international community should commit resources and political will to fight the spread of noncommunicable diseases, according to three health experts who argue the threat of such diseases is already too big to ignore.

An upcoming U.N. high-level summit focused on chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory conditions is a perfect opportunity for both developed and developing countries to show their willingness to work together to combat these disease, Susan Blumenthal, the Huffington Post’s public health editor, says in a blog post co-written by two former health policy interns and fellows at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

Blumenthal, who is a former U.S. assistant surgeon general, and her co-authors stress that noncommunicable diseases demand as much attention as HIV/AIDS, malaria and the other infectious diseases the international community is currently focusing on.

“Chronic diseases have a significant impact on every nation’s health, economy and national security. With more than half of the world’s 6.6 billion people living in cities with exposure to a myriad of health-damaging factors and an increasing incidence of age-related NCDs worldwide, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called the chronic disease pandemic ‘a public health emergency in slow motion,’” the three write.

This pandemic is also tied closely to the world’s problem with infectious diseases, they add, noting that some noncommunicable illnesses may be linked to HIV/AIDS, among others.

The upcoming U.N. high-level summit, the three write, is expected to raise awareness about the spread of noncommunicable diseases and stress the need to address this pandemic. There would be calls for commitment to fighting these illnesses and all U.N. member states, particularly donors, should respond generously, Blumenthal and her co-writers say.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.