A news report in The Times of India from earlier this month disclosed some significant news – it said that India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh, is planning to attend the UN Summit on NCDs in New York on September 19th. This kind of engagement from heads of state is vital to ensure the summit’s success and we commend India’s leadership for taking this step.
Given that 20% of India’s population suffers from at least one NCD it is encouraging that India’s leaders are giving NCDs a high priority. In other recent news reports, the country’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, commented that India is taking concrete steps to address NCDs including the implementation of a ‘National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases & Stroke’ across a good portion of the country. Efforts under way emphasize prevention and creating awareness about these diseases, rapid scale-up of infrastructure and human resources to deliver quality care, and driving down costs to make treatment more affordable. Some reports highlighted that behavior changes to encourage adoption of healthy life styles are to be attempted in over 100,000 villages.
Global Health experts have noted that India however, does not have a National Plan for NCDs or an overarching policy framework for NCDs. While the country deserves kudos for moving ahead with significant initiatives to address NCDs, in the face of a complex and crowded public health agenda, it will probably need to give this NCD policy work some attention if the UN Summit Outcomes Document asks countries to articulate NCD-focused National Plans.
The participation of world leaders in the UN Summit is important because it signals a recognition that NCDs are a global crisis, and that there is growing political will to confront the issue. Thank you Mr. Singh for adding to the momentum. We at Arogya World call for world leaders, including Mr. Obama, to make their way to New York this September, make significant commitments to address NCDs in their own countries and around the world, and make the UN Summit a transformative moment in world health.