WHO urges action on non-communicable diseases

Making diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes a higher priority for global health work is the focus of a new initiative by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO initiative aims to ensure that the threat of non-communicable diseases is urgently addressed by the health and development policies of developing nations.

Diagnostic screening, preventative healthcare and affordable interventions are emphasised by WHO as effective strategies in addressing this growing threat to global health.

Heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease are responsible for 60% of all deaths worldwide, says WHO. It predicts that the annual increase in mortality rates from these diseases will exceed 20% in the developing world over the next decade.

WHO has launched a new global non-communicable diseases network of organisations and experts, which aims to boost global partnerships and help governments to plan and implement measures.

Ministers at the UN Economic and Social Council annual meeting in Geneva called for “urgent action” to implement WHO’s global strategy for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

Leslie Ramsammy, Guyana’s Minister of Health, said that similar targets should be set for non-communicable diseases as have been set for other diseases. These targets must include access to diagnostic tests and treatments, he argued.

For more information, visit www.who.int.