UN General Assembly to tackle control and prevention of diseases

The control and prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) world-wide is a major issue to be tackled at the 66th Session of United Nations General Assembly.

Other issues are High Level Meeting on Nutrition and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement linked to the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 (eradicating poverty and hunger).

Member States, including Ghana, would therefore highlight the linkages between under-nutrition and chronic diseases. The meeting would focus on the first year of progress in SUN countries, and plans and commitments for the future.

The NCDs are non-transmissible diseases of long duration and slow progression.

Cardio-Vascular (Heart Attacks, Stroke), Cancer and Chronic Respiratory Diseases (Asthma) and Diabetes would be the main focus since they cause 63 per cent of all global deaths and known to kill people before age 70.

Other activities are high-level meeting on the Durban Declaration and Programme for Action (DDPA), adopted in 2001 to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

It would concentrate on the implementation of commitments to fight discrimination over the last decade.

A general assembly debate on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) implementation would be held in the wider context of MDG 8 to assess how commitments are being met on aid, trade, debt relief, access to essential medicines and closing the digital divide between north and south.

The 2011 MDG gap task force, which focuses on implementation of Goal 8, would be launched on September 16.

Others are high level meeting on forests and desertification.

Mrs Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, Resident Coordinator of United Nations in Ghana, announced this at a media briefing in Accra on the forthcoming 66th Session of UN General Assembly scheduled at UN Headquarters in New York from September 13-30.

She noted that these diseases could be prevented if issues on lifestyles such as tobacco usage, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol were tackled, especially as 90 per cent of these NCDs occurred in low and middle income countries.

“There are many preventive measures that can be undertaken including better access to NCD treatment and care in all countries, investment in strong health systems and a robust health financing systems,” she added.

Mrs Sandhu-Rojon said promoting healthy lifestyles and prevention of NCDs was an important pillar of Ghana’s National Health Policy of 2007, and the UN system was supporting the study of NCD burden and its risk factors.

Others are the development of a national policy on these diseases as well as the implementation of International Convention on Tobacco Control.

The UN is also supporting government to develop a National Alcohol Policy.

Mrs Sandhu-Rojon called for strong political commitment, advocacy and inter-sectoral collaboration to control NCDs in Ghana.

She said world-wide, about one billion people were affected by food insecurity and 171 million children were chronically undernourished; which impaired their intellectual, physical, social skills and precipitated NCDs in future.

“Though prevalence of underweight, wasting and stunting growth among young children in Ghana is significantly lower compared to most West African countries, child growth has not improved substantially over the past decade with the exception of underweight.

“There are also substantial disparities within the country with Eastern, Central, Northern and Upper East Regions recording the highest rates of stunted growth” Mrs Sandhu-Rojon stated.

Mrs Sandhu-Rojon urged the media to play their role in informing and educating the general public on events and the outcome of these meetings.

The 66th Session would be presided over by Mr Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, a veteran diplomat and permanent representative of Qatar to the UN.

Source: GNA

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