UN High Level Summit On Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). By Shobha Shukla


With just a year to go, the countdown to the UN Summit on Non Communicable Diseases (to be held in September, 2011 in Brussels) has already begun. The Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance, (consisting of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), World Heart Federation, Union for International Cancer Control, and the International Union for Tuberculosis and Lung Disease - The Union) is gearing up to play a prominent role in this movement to drive home strong outcomes. It is a unique alliance representing the four priority NCDs (cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases) identified by WHO, and has more than 880 member organizations in over 170 countries and territories.
The epidemic of NCDs, despite being a global emergency, has been largely ignored by the international community. NCDs account for 60% of all deaths globally, 80% of which are in low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization estimates that 8 million people die prematurely in these countries from NCDs every year.The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified NCDs as the second most severe threat to the global economy in terms of livelihood and potential economic loss. NCDs are a major cause of poverty, a barrier to economic development, and a neglected global emergency. This has prompted UN member states to unanimously call for a Summit on NCDs recognizing that there is an urgent global need to address this debilitating and costly epidemic.
The NCD Alliance has broad long term global objectives, which provide the context for the specific requirements from the UN Summit on NCDs in September 2011. This long term vision includes: NCD / disease national plans for all; Improved lifestyles; Strengthened health systems; Global access to affordable and good quality medicines and technologies; A tobacco free world; and Human rights for people with NCDs.
Diabetes, one the four priority NCDs identified by WHO, remains a neglected global epidemic which is now imposing a heavy dual burden of infectious and non communicable diseases on under resourced health systems in low and middle income countries.
According to the IDF:
there are over 300 million people with diabetes worldwide, with low- and middle-income countries accounting for 4 out of 5 cases of diabetes. Most deaths and complications related to diabetes in low and middle-income countries are in the economically productive age group (30 to 50 years). There are 50.8 million people with diabetes in India and 92.4 million in China. Africa will have the highest percentage increase in the number of people with diabetes over the next 20 years. 80% of people with diabetes in Africa remain undiagnosed.
IDF hopes to contribute to the UN Summit on NCDs by working with its network in 200+ member associations in 160+ countries, and partners to produce diabetes specific deliverables by:
1. Leading global advocacy for diabetes
2. Producing diabetes evidence and analysis
3. Promoting best practice and workable solutions
4. Mobilising our members at national and regional levels
5. Building strategic alliances for diabetes
IDF also envisages to link the UN Summit to two events happening right after it. IDF will use the November 2011 World Diabetes Day (WDD) campaign to further engage the general public on diabetes and continue the momentum, putting pressure on political leaders to deliver what has been promised.
Summit outcomes will also be discussed at the one day political event, the Global Diabetes Forum, planned for the World Diabetes Congress in Dubai, December 2011.
The NCD Alliance wants full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (a major risk factor for all NCDs) and for the Summit to deliver action from global to local levels on NCD prevention. Allocating sufficient resources to NCD treatment, prevention, management, research and health systems is essential to implementing Summit recommendations.
The UN Summit on NCDs is a great opportunity to put diabetes and other NCDs on the global agenda and leverage commitments that will stem an epidemic which is destroying millions of lives. The global diabetes community needs to mount a visible and coherent campaign to ensure diabetes needs and priorities get into the global agenda of the UN Summit. (CNS)

(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS) and also serves as the Director of CNS Gender Initiative and CNS Diabetes Media Initiative (CNS-DMI). She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP, and teaches Physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)

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