News / Africa

UN to Plot Strategy against Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease

Joe DeCapua

Later this month (9/19-20), the U.N. hosts the High-level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The goal is to find strategies to reduce the number of avoidable deaths from chronic disease. However, some observers say big industry is trying to influence policy and derail the meeting.

Not very often

Holding a high-level meeting on health-related issues is a rare occurrence for the United Nations.

“It’s only the second time the U.N. has met to discuss illness or ill health. The first time they met was in 2001 and that was to discuss HIV and AIDS. Global health advocates really see this as an opportunity to discuss chronic diseases, so diseases such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and cancer, in a big global forum,” said Dr. Deborah Cohen, investigations editor for the British Medical Journal.

She said the U.N. has the “potential to signal a change” in dealing with these illnesses.

“There’s hundreds of millions of people that suffer from these diseases around the world. Typically, they’ve been thought of as Western illness, so illnesses that affect rich countries. But increasingly what we’re seeing is more and more poorer countries are going to have a large number of people suffering from these illnesses to such an extent that in 20 years time, four out of five people will come from the developing world that have these illnesses,” she said.

Cohen said noncommunicable diseases are not only a health issue, but an economic one as well.

“The people that suffer these illnesses are often people that are at work and then they become ill and they can’t go to work. And so the World Economic Forum has actually waded in and said, look, this is a threat to global economic security. We need to tackle these illnesses,” she said.

Watered down

The British Medical Journal editor has seen the final summit document. And she says many proposed tough regulations have been eliminated or watered down.

“One of the problems with this is is that if you are going to tackle the illnesses, if you are going to prevent the illnesses, it does mean particular policy measures that will have an impact on the alcohol industry, the tobacco industry, the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry. And we all know that these are an incredibly powerful body of industries,” she said.

She said those industries have been busying lobbying prior to the summit. Many of the proposals to curb alcohol sales have been eliminated, such as higher taxes and marketing restrictions. And while the document shows tough measures against tobacco and trans fats, some food industry restrictions were eased.

“Initially in the draft declaration, there was a measure to reduce the amount of salt to five grams per day per person. But that’s come out. Instead, the language is a lot softer. So, you talk about measures to reduce saturated fat, sugar and salt, but there are no specific targets. And I know that has concerned some global health advocates that really think governments need to sign up for specifics,” she said.

Even though the final document for the summit has been watered down, Dr. Cohen said it still gets people talking about the issues. There will be a follow-up meeting in 2014.

“So those countries that haven’t done anything, haven’t started to implement anything, will start to look a little bit bad.”

Cohen calls the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases a starting point, but an important starting point.

You May Like

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs