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UN Summit to tackle ‘lifestyle’ diseases – updated

Updated 12 October 2011

The UN held a top-level Summit on the worldwide prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and lung disease in New York, 19-20 September.

The Summit came up with a resolution for government action against physical inactivity and use of harmful food ingredients, tobacco and alcohol. This resolution, worked out by officials before the meeting, was earlier watered down. It lacks specific targets and time-lines. Health groups point to industry influence.

Justice Minister, Simon Power lead the New Zealand delegation. Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, accompanied him.

WHO website has links to the meeting and its key documents including the Declaration

Read the UN news release after they adopted the declaration (19 September)

The NCD Alliance has links to many of the media stories from around the world.

FOE put out supplements to Obesity News with media coverage of the Summit on 14 September and 3 October.


Other media coverage about the UN Summit


NCDs: celebrating success, moving forward
New Zealand’s Professor Robert Beaglehole and others comment on the Summit outcomes. They identify two urgent tasks: publicising the Declaration and encouraging the succesful delivery of its four key short-term commitments.
Read more: The Lancet, 8 Oct 2011 (Free registration needed for full text.)

Did the U.N. Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases Count?
Ann Keeling, chair of the NCD Alliance, gives her view on what actually happened at the Summit. “We’ve come out of this,” says Keeling, “with 193 governments committing to create change. Now we have to hold their feet to the fire.”
Read more: Huffington Post, 29 Sep 2011

Two days in New York: Reflections on the UN NCD Summit
An editorial in The Lancet Oncology reflects on the progress made at the UN’s high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases and highlights the commitments made in the resulting Declaration.
Read the editorial: Lancet Oncology, October 2011

Editorial calls UN summit declaration underwhelming, lacking ambition, and reflective of industry interests

An editorial published Online First in The Lancet Oncology describes the long-awaited declaration resulting from this week’s UN Summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in New York, as a “watered-down document reflective of national and industry interests” that “lacks tangible targets”, and “is a more politically correct declaration than a political declaration of war”.
Read more: The Lancet/Eureka Alert, 22 Sep 2011

Lots of talk, little action from crucial UN summit on deadly diseases

Associate Professor Anushka Patel of the University of Sydney gives her views on the Summit and its outcomes.
Read more: Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Sep 2011

Non-communicable diseases come to the UN
Stephen Leeder from the Menzies Centre at the University of Sydney attended the Summit and reflects on the outcomes.
Read more: The Conversation, 22 Sep 2011

Controversy surrounds UN health summit

Australia’s ABC has an excellent news report on the controversy surrounding the UN Summit about the role of industry in negotiations.
Watch the news report 19 Sep 2011

U.N. tackles non-communicable diseases, world’s leading killer

World leaders kicked off a historic two-day meeting at the United Nations on Monday by unanimously approving a “political declaration” meant to stem a rising tide of non-communicable diseases, now the world’s leading killer. The measure is expected to be adopted in full after a second day of discussion Tuesday. But it will then depend on cooperation from food, alcohol and tobacco companies.
Read more: CNN, 19 Sep 2011

Low-cost solutions to non-communicable disease – WHO study

A WHO study released ahead of the UN Summit reveals that low-income countries could introduce a core set of strategies to prevent and treat cancer, heart disease, diabetes and lung disease for just US$ 1.20 per person per year.
Read the report
Read more: World Health Organization news, 18 Sep 2011

Chronic disease to cost $47 trillion by 2030: WEF report

The global economic impact of the five leading chronic diseases — cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and respiratory disease — could reach $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to a study by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Read the report
Read more: Reuters, 19 Sep 2011

UN calls summit on spread of ‘lifestyle’ diseases

World leaders at a meeting of the United Nations on Monday will agree a deal to try to curb the spread of preventable “lifestyle” diseases, amid concern that progress is already being hampered by powerful lobbyists from the food, alcohol and tobacco industries.
Read more: The Guardian, 16 Sep 2011

Health groups warn business could hijack U.N. meeting

In a letter to The Lancet, a group of public health organisations said they were concerned about the impact of big business on public policy making. Industries selling fatty foods, alcohol and cigarettes could hijack a United Nations meeting on how to tackle chronic disease in order to protect their own interests.
Read the Lancet letter: Conflict of Interest and the UN Meeting on NCDs, The Lancet, 16 Sep 2011
Read more: Reuters, 16 Sep 2011

U.N. Summit Seeks to Tame ‘Non-Communicable Diseases’

Heart disease, cancer, lung disease and type 2 diabetes are all non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and are now the leading cause of death worldwide. They are also largely preventable, experts say. That’s why health experts and leaders from 193 nations plan to meet next week at the United Nations in New York City to discuss strategies to lower the death toll
Read more: US News and World Report, 16 Sep 2011

World leaders must take binding steps to curb unhealthy food industry – UN expert

A United Nations human rights expert today called for taxing unhealthy food, regulating harmful marketing practices and standing up to the food industry, urging world leaders not to miss the chance at a summit next week to end a state of affairs that kills nearly 3 million adults each year.
Read more, UN News Centre, 16 Sep 2011

Nestle and Glaxo lobby UN over biggest epidemic battle since AIDs

Officials from big international companies such as Nestle and GlaxoSmithKline are joining political leaders and health groups at the UN Summit. There’s a lot at stake:

On the table are proposals to fight obesity, cut tobacco and alcohol use and expand access to lifesaving drugs in an effort to tackle unhealthy diets and lifestyles that drive three of every five deaths worldwide. At stake for the makers of snacks, drinks, cigarettes and drugs is a market with combined sales of more than $2 trillion worldwide last year.

“I am not averse to them lobbying,” Robert Beaglehole, chairman of New Zealand’s Smokefree Coalition and a former director of the WHO Department of Chronic Disease and Health Promotion in Geneva, reportedly said. “I am averse to governments taking them seriously.”

Read more: Bloomberg, 16 Sep 2011

After Some Haggling, Negotiators for U.N. Summit Reach Tentative Agreement
Science Mag reports on negotiations:

After a summer of negotiations whose slow pace and political gaming has drawn the ire of numerous health advocacy organisations, representatives of U.N. member states appear to have come to a compromise on a political declaration document for the 19 September U.N. high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

A leaked, heavily annotated 5 August draft suggests that negotiations stalled partly because of the influence of food, tobacco, and drug industries, according to editors at the British Medical Journal who saw the draft, and partly because the global economic crisis leaves nations “allergic to agreeing to anything that looks like [committing] new resources.”

Reference: Will industry influence derail UN summit? BMJ, 23 Aug 2011
Read more: Science Mag, 7 Sep 2011

Public health policy at the mercy of corporate greed

Professor Boyd Swinburn from Deakin University in Australia has an excellent opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on how the commitments that might flow from the Summit are being watered down. He says:

The rich countries, particularly the US and European Union but also Australia, Canada and New Zealand, are active accomplices in watering down the draft UN statements.

A statement with commitments to tangible outcomes has long been tossed aside and been replaced with a much weaker political statement with all targets and accountability mechanisms removed.

Read more: Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Sep 2011

UN Member States jeopardise progress on epidemic

FOE put out a media release when we found out some countries were weaking the Summit’s goals and timelines.
Read more: FOE media release, 4 Sep 2011

Europe, US accused of stalling UN disease talks
A global health group has accused the United States, Canada and Europe of harming efforts to fight cancer, diabetes, heart and other diseases because they will not agree to set United Nations targets. The main sticking point is money. According to Ann Keeling, chair of the NCD Alliance, a group of about 2,000 health organisations from around the world:

Rich nations fear they will have to foot much of the bill for tackling a chronic disease epidemic in poorer nations, and are reluctant to commit to this when their economies are in turmoil.

Read more: Reuters/Yahoo, 18 Aug 2011

Published on 22 September 2011 in International news