An Exciting Time in the Fight Against NCDs

Posted on: February 8th, 2011 by Arogya World

The last couple of weeks have been tremendous in moving forward the agenda for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).  We wanted to bring to your attention some of the highlights.

Plenary at World Economic Forum 27 Jan 2011

The WEF panel discussion with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and prominent leaders from the private sector and academia contributed greatly to raising the profile of NCDs on the world stage. Panelists recognized the serious threat of chronic diseases, and emphasized that collaboration and leadership at multiple levels (including the UN, government, the private sector and civil society) are needed to create lasting impact. The session was a real step forward in mobilizing the world in advance of the high-level UN meeting on NCDs to take place in September 2011.

IOM President Harvey Fineberg

Another key mobilizing talk was delivered on Feb 2nd in Washington, D.C., by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. His thoughtful remarks and responses to questions brought the chronic disease community closer together in its resolve to ensure the world addresses NCDs.

The Lancet Spotlights Obesity

Three papers published by The Lancet on February 3, 2011, show that the worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. Meanwhile high-income countries have shown impressive reductions in mean blood pressure and cholesterol levels, with some countries doing much better than others. The articles present country-by-country trends in obesity, cholesterol and blood pressure.

New Book: Diabetes Public Health From Data to Policy

Arogya World Scientific Steering Committee member Dr. Venkat Narayan from Emory, is first author of Diabetes Public Health From Data to Policy. Published by Oxford University Press, the book is now available online.

World Cancer Day

On February 4, 2011, the world observed a day dedicated to cancer in some remarkable ways:

WHO Physical Activity Guidelines: On February 4th, the WHO released new guidelines on reducing the risk of breast and colon cancers through increased physical activity. This is big news, so stay tuned.

The UICC organized World Cancer Day 2011 around the theme of cancer prevention, with a dedicated website and innovative efforts to earn support from 1 million people for a Declaration for a cancer-free world. The IUCC intends to present it to the world’s leaders at the first UN Summit for NCDs in Sep 2011.

For the first time, the Empire State Building in New York City glowed blue and orange – the colors of World Cancer Day – at sundown on February 4th.  The American Cancer Society chose this building and this activity to herald the UN summit on cancer and other NCDs that will be held in New York in September 2011.

Also, Livestrong’s World Cancer Day quiz caught our attention by bringing home some hard-hitting facts on the global impact of this disease.

See also this thoughtful op-ed on the Global Burden of Cancer by Jeff Sturchio and Doug Ulman in the Huffington Post.

Prevention estimates announced on World Cancer Day, by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) showed that by eating a varied and healthy diet, undertaking regular physical activity, being at a healthy weight and limiting alcohol intake, as many as 340,000 cases of cancer in United States could be prevented each year.

Positive Steps from the Private Sector

Finally, we wanted to highlight some positive moves from the private sector in the last couple of weeks. They deserve a pat on the back.

The Workplace Wellness Alliance: We expect a lot from The Workplace Wellness Alliance of the World Economic Forum. By focusing on metrics, they can create a business case for companies to champion workplace wellness in their own organizations and outside. And the Alliance can pioneer global workplace wellness standards that can be followed in every country and hold companies accountable.

Walmart’s Healthier Foods Initiative: Walmart’s recent efforts to make sweeping changes to their line of food products and reduce the levels of trans-fats, sodium and sugars over the next few years is bound to have a beneficial effect on the health of Americans.  This effort has received a lot of attention, and commentary, both positive, and negative.  We think it is a bold step in the right direction, and must be recognized by the global health community for the incredible impact it will have on the NCD crisis.