CARICOM alarmed that non-communicable diseases responsible for 60% of deaths worldwide

man with diabetes

man with diabetes

NARRATOR: With an estimated 8 million premature deaths from non-communicable diseases occurring in developing countries each year, the upcoming high-level General Assembly meeting on the issue would bring an urgently needed focus on the problem.

That according to a panel of speakers participating in a preliminary media event at Headquarters this week.

The Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador Raymond Charles, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community – CARICOM, said it was alarming that 60 per cent of deaths around the world resulted from non-communicable diseases that could be controlled.

He explained why the Caribbean Community -CARICOM was involved in advancing this agenda at the United Nations.

TAPE: Firstly, we found out in 2001 that it was alarming that 60% of all deaths worldwide, according to WHO statistics occurred as a result of NCD's –non-communicable diseases. In particular, the foremost prominent NCD's- Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases are prevalent even though they can be prevented and controlled and more disturbing is that 80% of these deaths occur in low and middle-income developing countries and these globally are schedule to increase by 17% over the next 10 years. In 2009, CARICOM recognized the limitations of a regional approach to addressing the pressing issue of NCD.

NARRATOR: Ambassador Charles noted that even with the highest level of political commitment, some of the critical measures necessary to prevent and control these diseases such as access to and availability of affordable healthy food, medication and technology to facilitate early detection and appropriate treatment will require global solidarity, cooperation and commitment.

TAPE: Stated in the report of the director-general of the WHO and entitled the Global Status of NCD's, the particular focus on development challenges faced by developing countries, it was clear that among the foremost prominent diseases are emerging globally as significant macro-economic and developmental challenges due to productivity, rapid rising care costs and their links with poverty. It was also recognized that a multi-sectoral response involving non-health sectors such as planning, agriculture, trade, finance, sports and education supported at the highest political level, as well as necessary action by the private sector and civil society were urgently required to curb rapidly-growing incidence and prevalence of these diseases worldwide and in particular in developing countries such as CARICOM.

NARRATOR: According to Ambassador Charles, during the 64th session of the General Assembly, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, supported by CARICOM heads called for a meeting of heads of state and government on NCD's to be held at the United Nations Headquarters at the earliest possible opportunity and subsequently with support from PAHO, WHO, UN Member States, the UN Secretariat, CARICOM championed the initiative which resulted in agreement by the General Assembly to convene a high-level meeting on NCD's with participation of heads of state and government at the UN on Sept 19 and 20 this year.

He explained what CARICOM was hoping to for from the high-level meeting.

TAPE: In terms of expected outcomes of the high-level meeting, we expect a concise action-oriented outcome document which would reflect political commitment at the highest level to undertake necessary action to prevent and control NCD's. It is also hoped that as a result of the high-level meeting, there would be increased awareness of the global burden of NCDs and their implications. We anticipate a discussion on integrating NCDs into the development agenda and provision of technical assistance to assist in establishing and further developing programmes at prevention and control of these diseases and we are looking for clear, achievable targets adopted in relation to the way forward in addressing the challenges posed by these diseases.

NARRATOR: The representative of Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador Rodney Charles.

United Nations estimates and preliminary results of a new study show that nearly two-thirds of deaths in the world are caused by non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart and lung disease which are rapidly increasing at a cost to the global economy of trillions of dollars.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report circulated this week that while the international community has focused on communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, the four main non-communicable diseases “have emerged relatively unnoticed in the developing world and are now becoming a global epidemic.”

According to the report, 36 million people died from non-communicable diseases in 2008, representing 63 percent of the 57 million global deaths that year. Nearly 80 percent of deaths from these diseases were in the developing world, and 9 million deaths were of men and women under the age of 60, it said.

In 2030, the report said, these diseases are projected to claim the lives of 52 million people.

Ban said the rapidly increasing magnitude of non-communicable diseases is fuelled by rising risk factors including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, obesity and harmful alcohol use _ and is driven in part by an aging population, the negative impact of urbanization, and the globalization of trade and marketing.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 5’43″

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