|Health Leaders Promise New Action to Reduce Chronic Diseases in the Americas|
Ministers meet to prepare a regional position for upcoming U.N. summit
The agreement emerged from a meeting held on Feb. 24-25 to review experiences with interventions for preventing and controlling diseases including cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and chronic respiratory illness. The ministers developed a common position for the Americas to present at the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, scheduled for September in New York.
Among participants in the Mexico City meeting were Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Socorro Gross-Galiano, assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). President Felipe Calderón of Mexico gave closing remarks.
In a related development today in Buenos Aires, more than 50 organizations from throughout the Americas launched a new Healthy Latin American Coalition, which will coordinate civil society efforts to reduce chronic diseases and promote the participation of governments in the upcoming UN summit.
Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory illnesses are the leading causes of death and disability throughout the Americas. In 2007, nearly 4 million people died from these diseases. In 2005, there were 139 million obese people in the hemisphere (1 in every 4 adults), and the number is expected to grow to 289 million in 2015. The chief risk factors for chronic noncommunicable diseases are tobacco consumption, alcohol use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and air pollution.
In their declaration, the ministers of health agreed to:
Strengthen national health information systems and monitoring of chronic noncommunicable diseases.