News / Health

    WHO Calls for Action on Non-Communicable Diseases

    WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (file photo).
    WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (file photo).

    The director-general of the World Health Organization says non-communicable diseases are among the most pressing public-health challenges of the future.  

    Obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, cancers and other chronic diseases are growing globally.  Once considered as diseases of the wealthy, they increasingly are threatening the lives of people in poor and middle-income countries.

    In an opening speech to the annual WHO Executive Board meeting, Director-General Margaret Chan presented an overview of the global health situation and called for action on a number of important issues.  

    Dr. Chan urged the 34-member board to tackle the root causes of non-communicable diseases.  She says the impact of non-communicable diseases comes in waves, and much of the developing world now is experiencing the first wave of chronic, debilitating, often fatal illnesses.

    "This is marked by growing numbers of people with raised blood pressure, raised cholesterol and the early stages of diabetes," she said. "The growing prevalence of obesity and overweight, seen nearly everywhere, is the warning signal that big trouble is on its way.  The second wave, which is yet to come, will be much more horrific."  

    For example, Chan notes more than half of the estimated 346 million people who suffer from diabetes are unaware of their disease status.  Unfortunately, she says many of these people will not seek treatment until the disease has reached an advanced stage and they start to go blind or need a limb amputated.  She says WHO is giving the highest priority toward the prevention of this tragic outcome.

    Dr. Chan also listed a number of significant health accomplishments in the first decade of this century.

    She notes the epidemics of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have peaked and begun to decline.  Malaria also is on the decline.  She says young child mortality has dropped below 10 million deaths a year for the first time in nearly six decades, with great strides being made in sub-Saharan Africa.  She says the number of maternal deaths worldwide has finally begun to go down.

    The global eradication of polio also is reaching its endgame.  Efforts to wipe this crippling disease off the face of the earth received a boost recently with the announcement that India, one of four endemic countries, has not had a case of polio in one year.

    Dr. Chan says this is the time to intensify efforts.  She says governments must not become complacent.  They must stay the course.

    "Should commitment falter, polio will come roaring back.  Should our resolve waver, this will be the most expensive failure in the history of public health," she said.

    WHO chief Chan expressed concern at the growing inequality in income levels and opportunities, especially among young people.  

    She cites a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which finds income inequality in wealthy nations has reached the worst levels seen in nearly 25 years.  The report concludes that societies with the least inequality have the best health outcomes, regardless of how much they spend.  

    Good policies that promote equity, she says, have a better chance to improve health.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora