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UN Chief Calls For More Political Commitment on Non-Communicable Diseases

If these policies were implemented globally, they would save 10 million lives by 2025 and prevent 17 million strokes and heart attacks by 2030.

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Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, VOA

Seven in 10 people worldwide die from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases, according to a study published in The Lancet earlier this month.

These diseases not only rob people prematurely of their lives, they cost enormous amounts of money. The Lancet report estimated that over the next 15 years, the costs to developing countries alone is projected to total more than $7 trillion.

Three years ago, world leaders pledged to reduce premature deaths from these non-communicable diseases by one-third by the year 2030.

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Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference after an emergency committee meeting on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, VOA

At Thursday’s U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said less than half of the world’s countries will meet that target, urging world leaders to recommit to these goals.

Tedros called for more political commitment and domestic investment. He said he knew from his own experience that “with political commitment, anything is possible. Without it, progress is slow.”

Tedros mentioned a list of what he called “best buys,” policy changes that cost little but produce huge rewards. “WHO’s best buys are cost-effective and affordable for all countries. Spending to build a healthier population is not a cost. It’s an investment in human capital that pays a rich reward.”

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Tedros mentioned a list of what he called “best buys,” policy changes that cost little but produce huge rewards.

Tedros urged countries to increase tobacco taxes, restrict advertising for alcohol, and lower the amount of salt, sugar and fat in food products. Doing this will lower the risks for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. He advised countries to vaccinate girls against cervical cancer.

Also Read: Alcohol Kills More People Than AIDS, Violence Combined: WHO

Tedros also recommended that countries provide universal health coverage as the best way to prevent and treat non-communicable diseases.

He said if these policies were implemented globally, they would save 10 million lives by 2025 and prevent 17 million strokes and heart attacks by 2030. And, again, focusing on economic benefits, Tedros said implementing “best buys” would generate $350 billion in economic growth in the poorest countries between now and 2030. (VOA)

Next Story

WHO Makes Progress In Controlling Ebola In Congo

In addition, 2,600 health care workers in Uganda have been vaccinated.

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Health workers treat an unconfirmed Ebola patient inside a MSF (Doctors Without Borders)-supported Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 3, 2018. VOA

Six months after the outbreak of Ebola was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, the World Health Organization is expressing cautious optimism that it is making headway in controlling the spread of the deadly virus.

Latest figures reported by the WHO show 752 cases of Ebola, including 465 deaths.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, says progress in containing the spread of the virus is due to a number of public health measures, including the training of health workers on infection prevention and control, closer engagement with communities, case investigation and contact tracing.

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Medical staff are sterilized before entering the isolation unit at a hospital in Bundibugyo, western Uganda, on Aug. 17, 2018, where there is one suspected case of Ebola. VOA

She says the use of a vaccine and promising new drugs have been a boon to these efforts.

“I feel optimistic,” Moeti said. “I am very clear that we need to continue this work. We need to make sure that in the places where we have made progress, we build on this progress and we do not go back. And, we are being very, very conscious of the fact that we need to invest to improve the preparedness both in the DRC areas that are highest at risk and, most importantly, in the surrounding countries that are at risk.”

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Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) workers talk to a worker at an isolation facility, prepared to receive suspected Ebola cases, at the Mbandaka General Hospital, in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 20, 2018. VOA

The risk of the virus spreading to countries like Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan is very high because of the heavy cross-border traffic among the countries, Moeti said. However, she added, surveillance and preparedness activities have been enhanced on both sides of the border.

Also Read: WHO Calls for Accelerated Action To Eliminate Cervical Cancer

She says there is extensive monitoring at border crossings and improvements have been made in screening people for the virus. In addition, 2,600 health care workers in Uganda have been vaccinated. Moeti said a similar vaccination campaign began two days ago in South Sudan. (VOA)