Brasilia, 9 May 2012 (PAHO/WHO) – Health experts from throughout the Americas concluded a two-day meeting in Brazil by pledging joint action to fight non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which take the lives of nearly 4 million people in the hemisphere each year.
The meeting, held May 7 and 8, brought together members of the CARMEN (Set of Actions for the Multisectoral Reduction of Non-communicable Diseases) network to discuss how to transform the declaration signed at last year's United Nations High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases into policies, programs, and concrete actions.
Participants in the meeting showcased innovative efforts to fight NCDs in different countries and highlighted the need to improve epidemiological data and the quality of care for people with NCDs while promoting multisectoral policies. They also identified opportunities for South-South cooperation among countries to address these priority areas.
The CARMEN meeting provided a regional venue to discuss NCD goals and indicators that were requested by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon during the United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs, held in New York last September. In addition, representatives from PAHO member countries offered their observations on a proposed Regional Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases for 2012-2020, which will be presented to the Pan American Sanitary Conference in September of this year.
In the Americas, three out of four people suffer from one or more non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and chronic respiratory disease. Some 3.9 million people die each year from NCDs, 1.5 million of them before age 70. Deaths and illnesses due to NCDs are projected to increase 40 percent by 2030 if current trends continue.
This week's CARMEN meeting was organized by PAHO/WHO with the support of the Ministry of Health of Brazil and the World Diabetes Foundation. Speakers included the Secretary of Health Surveillance of Brazil's Ministry of Health, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, and PAHO Director Emeritus Sir George Alleyne.
"The path from declarations to action is not always a straight line," commented Dr. Alleyne during the conference.
CARMEN, an initiative created by PAHO/WHO, is a network of countries, organizations, and institutions that share the common goal of reducing the burden of chronic diseases and their risk factors, using a multidimensional approach centered on integrated prevention and management of NCDs. Its objective is to promote and establish programs and policies for integrated prevention and control of NCDs at the national and subregional levels in the Americas, supporting the implementation of the Regional Strategy and Plan of Action for an Integrated Approach to the Prevention and Control of Chronic Diseases. Since 1997 the CARMEN network has met biennially to review progress, share experiences, and promote new strategies to fight chronic diseases.
Following the CARMEN meeting, the Pan American Forum for Action against Non-communicable Diseases also met in Brasilia, on 8-9 May. The forum is a multisectoral platform that supports intensified collaborative measures to prevent NCDs at the regional and national levels. More than 200 representatives from governments, companies, academic institutions, civil society organizations, and multilateral institutions met to discuss how to work together to advance in prevention and control of NCDs.
PAHO, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, is the oldest public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.
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