In one month, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly High-Level Meeting (or the “UN Summit” for short) on Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Prevention and Control will take place inNew York City.
As time gets closer, you may have many questions in mind regarding this summit, but no worries, we’ve got answers for you.
Below you can find a list of responses to the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the UN Summit on NCDs. You can also download a detailed version of the FAQs here or post a question that was not answered.
- Q1. What is a United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting?
- Q2. Why is a high-level meeting needed?
- Q3. What will be the result of the NCD Summit?
- Q4. What is the process leading up to the UNGA High-Level Meeting on NCDs?
- Q5. What is PAHO/WHO’s role in the build-up to the NCD Summit?
- Q6. What is the role of civil society in the NCD Summit?
- Q7. What is the role of the private sector in the NCD Summit?
- Q8. What tools exist to reduce the NCD burden?
- Q9. What are some of the key steps already taken that resulted in the call for a UN Summit dedicated to NCDs?
- Q10. What are the key documents and websites?
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is the main decision-making body of the UN, representing all 193 Member States (South Sudan joined the UN as the newest and the 193rd Member State in July 2011). The UNGA frequently resolves to stage high-level meetings to increase awareness and reach common ground among heads of state on important global issues for the good of all people of the world. On 13 May 2010, the UNGA decided unanimously to “convene a High-Level Meeting (HLM) of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.” This step was taken after consideration of the global health, socio-economic and development impacts of the four main types of NCDs and their common risk factors. The Caribbean countries (CARICOM) proposed the resolution calling for the HLM. This is only the second time the UN has called such a high-level meeting on a health issue, the first being the 2001 special session on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
NCDs are one of the greatest social and economic development challenges facing us in the 21st Century, and they dominate healthcare needs in most countries. Failure to reduce the impact of NCDs will cause a lot of unnecessary deaths, bankrupt some countries, reduce productivity and make it difficult to attain the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Because of the multi-factorial nature of NCDs and their risk factors, an approach involving all sectors of the society is needed. The HLM is the mechanism to convene all sectors, under the leadership of heads of government, to address the prevention and control of NCDs worldwide, with a particular focus on developmental and social and economic impacts.
The results could stop more than 30 million people worldwide from dying prematurely, reduce suffering, slow the upward cost spiral in health, and increase productivity. More concretely, the outcome will be a document pointing the way on how to:
- Prioritize NCDs and the promotion of health in national plans and on the global agenda to adequately address the health, socioeconomic and developmental impacts of NCDs;
- Secure commitment from heads of state and government for a coordinated global response to these diseases and their risk factors, with measurable goals and targets;
- Promote public policies to protect people and the planet where they live;
- Mobilize new financial and other resources to prevent NCDs and promote health;
- Strengthen health systems so they can more efficiently meet the demands of NCDs and other health needs, including communicable diseases, and child and maternal care;
- Greatly increase information, education and communication with and between people, families and all of society;
- Create an all-of-society response to support the above, with participation by the public and private sectors and civil society; and
- Establish global goals, targets and indicators and a system for monitoring, evaluation and accountability.
The UN General Assembly has mapped out the scope, modalities and organization of the summit. The event will have a “particular focus on developmental challenges and social and economic impacts [of NCDs], particularly for developing countries.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has had regional consultations that give countries the opportunity to raise the issues they face involving NCDs and what they want to see come out of the NCD summit. Consultations have been held in all six WHO regions: Eastern Mediterranean, European,Americas, and South-East Asia, Africa, and Western Pacific.
The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) is providing technical support for preparations of the high-level meeting, including organizing regional consultations of Member States to secure their contributions for the landmark meeting. A key role of the WHO is to provide the evidence base of health impacts and effective interventions, to inform decisions about NCD prevention and control. In the Americas, PAHO/WHO is implementing a Regional Strategy for prevention and control of NCDs. Wellness Week is part of PAHO/WHO’s effort to help countries prepare for the summit.
Civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including those under the umbrella of the NCD Alliance, are playing an integral role in the build-up to, and the organization of the NCD Summit. The importance of civil society is seen and felt at many levels. On the international stage, the expertise, influence and advocacy offered by NGOs have been critical factors in making the case on NCDs and the need for such a summit. At the regional and country levels, thousands of NGOs work to prevent people from developing NCDs; provide treatment and care for those who do suffer from such a disease; and advocate for people living with NCDs. In the Americas, the Healthy Caribbean Coalition is running an innovative texting campaign to support the UN Summit. The Coalition has also produced a declaration, which has gained support from more than 100 NGOs.
The private sector can clearly play a crucial role in the fight against NCDs. Many industries have business opportunities in promoting health and preventing NCDs, from promoting the consumption of fruits and vegetables to encouraging the use of bicycles. All employers can implement healthy workplace policies that protect against NCDs and promote health. The World Economic Forum (WEF), co-organizer of Wellness Week, paid particular attention to the issue of NCDs at its annual Davos event this year. The private sector is expected to participate in the three thematic roundtables held during the NCD Summit on September 19 and 20, 2011.
Evidence shows clearly that low-cost solutions exist to reduce the exposure of individuals and populations in developing countries to common modifiable risk factors to strengthen health care for people with NCDs, and to map the emerging epidemic of NCDs, and that these are excellent economic investments. Such measures can be implemented in various resource levels, and the greatest impact can be achieved through creation of healthy public policies and reorientation of health system services.
For action on NCDs to succeed, an all-society approach is needed that requires all sectors, including health, finance, foreign affairs, education, agriculture, planning and others to work together to reduce the causes and risks associated with NCDs, as well as to promote interventions to prevent and control them.
Research, evidence on the terrible impact of NCDs, development of guidance to prevent and control these diseases, and intensive advocacy have helped move the global agenda on NCDs forward to where it is today. Key milestones to date have been the 2007 declaration of the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community, “Uniting to stop the epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases” and the 2009 statement of the Commonwealth Heads of Government on action to combat NCDs.
- May 2010 NCD resolution
- Dec 2010 modalities resolution
- 2008-2013 Action Plan of the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases
- Frame Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)
- Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health
- Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol
- UN General Assembly
- World Health Organization HQ
- WHO office for the Africa region
- WHO office for the Americas region:
- WHO office for the Eastern Mediterranean region:
- WHO office for the European region
- WHO office for South-East Asian region
- WHO office for the Western Pacific region
- NCD Alliance
- World Economic Forum
Download the PDF version of FAQs here.