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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More