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Wellness Week began in 2011 as an initiative to illustrate the power of local action to combat non-communicable diseases NCDs (ENT). This was an activity built on the experience of “Wellness Day in the Caribbean” which occurred alongside the United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs. During this event, more than 192 heads of state and world leaders discussed, at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, what actions to take to prevent the NCDs pandemic. The major themes addressed were: cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as interventions aimed at key risk factors: smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet.

NCD`s are responsible for more than 36 million of deaths worldwide, a quarter of them among people under 60 years of age, and 80 percent in low and middle-income countries. The impacts of these diseases not only affect the health sector, but also present a significant economic burden for these countries. According to a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) “Best Buys: Reducing the Economic Impact of Non-Communicable Diseases in Low and Middle Income Countries,” it is estimated that, between 2011 and 2015 the economic loss for these countries will surpass $7 trillion dollars if health promotion and intervention efforts against NCDs remain inadequate.

Thus, Wellness Week has become an initiative to mobilize multiple stakeholders including local authorities, the private sector, civil society organizations, and the general public, to raise awareness and to remind everyone that each person plays a key role in preventing NCDs. Additionally, Wellness Week has influenced the development of initiatives and public policies in other sectors, that address the social determinants of health, emphasize the importance of health promotion, and encourage the creation of healthy environments.  

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