What Should the UN Summit on NCDs Deliver? The Global Health Community Articulates its “Asks”

Posted on: March 23rd, 2011 by Arogya World

The NCD Alliance, by far the largest civil society group working to maximize the impact of the UN Summit on NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases), has just released a document that articulates 34 “asks” from the UN and countries around the world, which if adopted, can make the UN Summit on NCDs on September 19 and 20, 2011, a success. In anticipation, the NCD Alliance titled their document the Proposed Outcomes Document, using the same name that the final UN document will have, with the great hope that the UN Outcomes Document will include many if not all of the NCD Alliance recommendations. They said it took them five months of painstaking homework and consultation with leading experts, patient groups and their member organizations to produce this landmark document.

The NCD Alliance has grouped its asks into eight action areas – Leadership, Prevention, Diagnostics and Treatment, Health Systems, Resources, Research, Human Rights and Monitoring. Some noteworthy elements –

  • The NCD Alliance calls for a UN Decade of Action on NCDs from 2012–2022 
during which the UN, national governments, the private sector and NGOs will work together to implement promises made at the Summit.
  • They also ask for a high-level Commission on Accountability for Action on NCDs by 2012, with representatives from government, donors, multi-lateral institutions, civil society and the private sector to ensure ongoing monitoring of commitments from the UN Summit.
  • And while calling for the effective implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, they also ask for other Prevention measures –
    • by 2013, they call for countries to develop and implement comprehensive strategies to decrease childhood obesity, and eliminate by 2016 all forms of marketing, particularly those aimed at children, for foods high in saturated fats, trans-fats, salt and refined sugars.
    • and also by 2013, they want countries to develop and implement regulatory measures to achieve substantial reductions in levels of saturated fats, trans-fats, salt and refined sugars in processed foods.
  • They also demand universal access to affordable, high-quality, essential NCD medicines and medical technologies.

Because NCDs are so complex an issue, there are a large number of ways governments can address them at the national and local levels, in the health sector alone and in multi-sectoral partnerships. There are also so many commitments we can ask NGOs, industry, academic institutions and donors to make at the global level. The effort of the NCD Alliance to focus action with this document is laudable.

In addition to this document released on March 22nd, there have been a number of other statements and declarations in recent weeks from around the world that demonstrate the collective resolve and unbridled enthusiasm of the NCD community to ensure that the opportunity provided by the UN Summit is leveraged fully. It is Arogya World’s understanding that all these documents and statements will inform the final UN Outcomes Document.

  • You can find the Latin American Declaration, the Mexico NCD Summit Consultation Ministerial Declaration and the Jakarta Call To Action from the South-East Asia NCD Summit Consultation on this page of statements and speeches.

We believe that as a result of our collective work, if countries agree to take serious steps to address NCDs at the UN Summit, and if mechanisms for measurement and accountability are in place, then in September 2011 the world will have moved one giant step forward in improving the health of people everywhere. And I for one, feel fortunate that I get a near-front-row seat to view this extraordinary action unfold.

Nalini Saligram
Arogya World