Dr Margaret Chan's interventions at sessions of the UN high-level meeting on noncommunicable diseases
Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization
International cooperation and coordination roundtable
Remarks at Roundtable 3: International cooperation and coordination, on the occasion of the UN High-level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases New York, New York, 20 September 2011
I will make four points.
First, noncommunicable diseases make the best possible case for international cooperation. The forces driving the increase in NCDs and their risk factors, like urbanization and the globalization of unhealthy lifestyles, are universal.
These diseases are everywhere.
There is no North-South, tropical-temperate, rich-poor divide.
Second, these diseases are extremely well-studied, extremely well-understood, and this gives us a big advantage.
For example, countries have found ways to reduce cancer incidence and cut back deaths from heart attacks.
We have a strong evidence base and a rich menu of options, of best practices, to choose from.
In this case, professional societies, associations, and alliances are a gold mine of expertise and experience. Their dedication are courage are unbeatable. Use this resource
Third, what we do not have is tools and interventions adapted to work well in resource-constrained settings. This is a big challenge and one that goes to the research-based pharmaceutical industry.
They are already working on this, as we know from the report, released on Monday, on Improving access to medicines for NCDs in the developing world.
Here, I strongly recommend that we look to emerging economies for guidance and help, especially with getting the price of generic medicines down through healthy competition.
Again, ministers of health are already hard at work on this task, especially in BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
My final point is frank and blunt. Watch the behaviour of industry. The new litigation tactics hitting countries that introduce strong tobacco control measures tell us this.
Even an old dog like Big Tobacco can learn some dirty new tricks.
And let me be frank. The rates of childhood obesity and overweight are growing several times faster than rates of obesity and overweight in adults.
Again, international cooperation is essential. Advertising and marketing readily cross borders. Kids the world over love the same cartoon characters that tell them what to eat or drink.
Educate your populations, including through the use of new information technologies. A health-wise population fights back street-wise.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is no time to lose. Act now. More than ever we need honest and responsible international cooperation and coordination. We need to hold each other accountable.
WHO will do its part and I commit to work with you all, as called for in the political declaration adopted yesterday.