As part of the outcome of the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs, the political declaration adopted acknowledged the special challenges faced by children and youth in preventing and treating non communicable diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease (including asthma). It is clear that the main causes of NCDs in adults -- smoking, drinking alcohol, obesity and lack of physical exercise, while serious issues in some young people, are not the prime drivers of these illnesses as they are in adults.
Dr. Colin Mathers of the World Health Organization, in a book published in 2009, estimated that in 2002 at least 1.2 million children under the age of 20 died from an NCD, and millions more survived to cope with a chronic illness. And because accurate statistics on childhood death and disability are generally not collected in low and moderate income countries, this was an estimate based upon reportable data, which is almost certain to be an underestimate of the actual toll.
So if the four main risk factors for NCDs in adults are not the same things that trigger NCDs in children, what are? And just as importantly, what can be done to stop the toll of NCDs in children, either by preventing them, diagnosing them early, or appropriately treating them?
To take stock of what is known, and not known, about NCDs in children and adolescents, and to plan a direction forward to a global agenda, the Public Health Institute is joining with the Australian nonprofit Caring and Living as Neighbors (CLAN),as well as the Global Health Council, to sponsor a conference. The announcement for the event, which will take place in Oakland, California, over March 19-21, at the facilities of the California Endowment, is here. Among the sponsors for the conference is the Medtronic Foundation. The announcement includes a call for abstracts, due to be submitted by January 23, 2012.