“Assuring Balance for NCDs” Roundtable Discussion
United States Mission and the Union for International Cancer Control
October 31, 2012
The U.S. Perspective
Ambassador Betty King
- On behalf of the United States, I am very pleased to host you at our Mission. The United States appreciates the dedication that you all have shown to addressing the growing burden of non-communicable disease (NCDs).
- Today in the United States, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disorders are the leading causes of death and disability. NCDs account for 70% of all deaths in the US, and disabilities related to NCDs limit the daily activities of almost 1 out of 10 Americans (or about 25 million people).
- The Obama Administration is deeply committed to addressing global health issues, including NCDs and their primary risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse, and unhealthy diet. Tobacco control, for example, is a top domestic health priority for the Obama Administration, which enacted historic legislation giving our Food & Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco.
- The processes leading up to the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting (HLM) on NCDs, and in particular the resulting Political Declaration, clearly recognized the importance of working across government and using whole-of-society approaches. These are multi-sectoral problems, and the solutions are not restricted to health ministries. In addition, government, civil society, academia and the private sector all need to work together if we’re going to be successful in reducing the impact of NCDs.
Key Priorities for Global Monitoring Framework
- Since the High-Level Meeting, energy and momentum to follow-through on the spirit of the Political Declaration and deliver on its major outcomes has been sustained.
- The United States applauds the engagement of the many stakeholders who have contributed to developing the global monitoring framework. We have taken an active role in these processes over the last year, working with WHO and other countries to establish the framework, including ambitious but achievable targets. Over the next week, Member States will finalize the framework and voluntary global targets, and discuss the contours and content of a renewed Action Plan to address NCDs through 2020.
- In our view, it is important that the global monitoring framework includes a well-rounded set of indicators and global targets that appropriately balances prevention and control, focusing on the four diseases and four major risk factors prioritized in the HLM Political Declaration. To turn the tide of NCDs, prevention efforts need to be ramped up, such as helping young people develop healthy habits and fostering environments that promote health. But we also need to take action for those living with NCDs today, to prevent or delay disabilities, and promote healthier and longer lives.
- The United States is broadly supportive of the overall framework, including indicators without targets such as policies to eliminate trans-fats from the food supply, policies to reduce the impact of marketing food and beverages to children, and cancer prevention and control. As much as possible the framework should minimize additional burdens of country-level reporting, building on data that countries already collect.
- There have been many rich discussions of the proposed voluntary global targets in the process so far. The United States fully endorses the first global target agreed by the World Health Assembly in May to cut preventable, early deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025. The remaining targets selected should be ambitious and achievable using evidence-based and scalable interventions, and monitored with technically sound indicators.
- We recognize that at the country-level, capacity in monitoring and surveillance, and to implement evidence-based interventions and policies may need to be strengthened.
- We are hopeful that Member States will agree to targets on the leading risk factors – tobacco use, high sodium consumption, harmful alcohol use, and physical inactivity – and on a health systems factor to round out the targets. Reaching consensus on this set will provide countries and regions with a foundation to build upon as they establish or strengthen their national plans and strategies by 2013.
- NCDs are truly a global problem, and will require action from each of us to turn the tide. Communities, civil society organizations and the private sector each have important roles to play, collaborating with governments, in a clear and transparent manner, to identify and implement solutions to NCDs. The United States continues to be strongly committed to raising the profile of NCDs as a major global public health concern. We look forward to completing the important work of establishing the global monitoring framework and global action plan, and together to reach the global targets on NCDs.