First ever framework to prevent and control non-communicable diseases agreed by WHO

The first ever global monitoring framework to prevent and control diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic lung disease and other non-communicable diseases has been agreed by World Health Organisations' member states.

The first ever global monitoring framework to prevent and control diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic lung disease and other non-communicable diseases has been agreed by World Health Organisations’ member states.

According to a WHO press statement, the framework comprises nine voluntary global targets and 25 indicators aimed at focusing efforts to address the impact of non-communicable diseases (NDCs).

“The draft framework aims at assessing the progress made in reducing associated illness and death, the reduction of exposures to the main risk factors for the diseases including tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, and the response of national health systems to non-communicable diseases,” WHO stated.

Dr Bjørn-Inge Larsen, the chairman of the formal WHO meeting, said the new global monitoring framework would enable member states to assess progress across regional and country settings and to monitor trends.

“The agreed voluntary targets are aspirational but achievable and they will drive progress in prevention and control at national, regional and global levels,” said Dr Larsen.

WHO member states reached consensus on the NCD targets and indicators during a formal three-day meeting that took place in Geneva last week (November 5-7) attended by 119 WHO countries, the African Union, the European Union and 17 non governmental organisations.

One of the global voluntary targets – the 25% reduction in premature mortality from non communicable diseases by 2025 – had already been adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2012.

Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s assistant director general for non-communicable diseases and mental health, described the indicators and voluntary global targets as “key building blocks of our fight against NCDs.”

“They will provide the foundation for advocacy, raising awareness, reinforcing political commitment and promoting global action to tackle these deadly diseases,” said Dr Chestnov.

The nine voluntary global targets relate to the following areas:

  • Combating premature mortality from NCDs
  • Promoting drug therapy and counselling
  • Medicines and technologies for NCDs
  • The harmful use of alcohol and tobacco
  • Physical inactivity
  • Salt/sodium intake
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

The 25 indicators aim to measure premature mortality, cancer incidence, harmful use of alcohol, low fruit and vegetable intake, weight and obesity, physical inactivity, raised blood glucose, raised blood pressure, raised total cholesterol, salt/sodium intake, tobacco use, fat intake and cervical cancer. An indicator will also look at drug therapy and counselling to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

“Essential NCD medicines and technologies, palliative care, policies to reduce the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, vaccination against hepatitis B, policies to eliminate partially hydrogenated vegetable oils from food supply, and vaccination against human papillomavirus.”

WHO adds that the global monitoring framework will now be considered first by the WHO executive board during its 132nd session in January 2013. It will then be submitted to the World Health Assembly in May 2013 for consideration and adoption.

Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death in the world and represent over 63% of all annual deaths.

“These diseases can be prevented and their impacts significantly reduced, with millions of lives saved and untold suffering avoided. Of the 36 million people who die annually from these diseases, 14 million are aged less than 70 years, and regarded therefore as premature and largely preventable deaths. 80% of the deaths related to non-communicable disease occurs in the developing world,” adds WHO.

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