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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitcheni
X
September 22, 2014 11:42 AM
With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid