Today the Presidents of the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association published an unprecedented joint statement concerning support for the UN High Level Meeting on Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
In the statement, simultaneously released through the electronic versions of all three organizations' journals, the three organizations call for raising "awareness about the burden of NCDs globally by providing key policy and media stakeholders with technical assistance to inform policy discussions, along with resources that highlight the global burden of NCDs and the need for coordinated interventions."
The joint statement calls for participation at the UN High Level Meeting by heads of state, including US President Barack Obama. Second, the authors propose that the UN and its members include strong civil society input in the meeting. Third, the organizations call on the UN to create a strong, action-oriented outcomes document with concrete recommendations and follow-up mechanisms. "For instance, countries could be called on to develop or strengthen national plans that include specific NCD surveillance systems, prevention targets, interventions, and timelines. In addition, the outcomes document should call for full implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control..."
Alan Balch, PhD, vice president of the Preventive Health Partnership, said that the rationale for the statement derives from the urgency of the question. "If we don't do something quickly and dramatically to turn the tide, these diseases and their associated complications could have wide-spread social and economic implications, with a greater impact proportionally on less-affluent nations. The good news is that there are many simple and cheap ways to reduce the prevalence of these diseases through an emphasis on prevention and wellness. The upcoming UN meeting on NCDs represents a rare and unique opportunity to find new and important ways to focus the world's collective attention and energy."
Also within the last day, there has been a call-to-arms issued by Nalini Saligram of Arogya World and Sandeep Kishore of the Young Professional Chronic Disease Working Group for the creation of a global movement on NCDs. They argue that NCDs effects on women and on young people mean that this is a social justice issue of great importance to these relatively unempowered groups. "We cannot wait for world leaders to act -- we must move from the bottom-up, building momentum at the social and community grass-roots level," Saligram and Kishore write.
Given the common cause that groups large and small are making on this issue, this seems like a pretty safe bet.