NCD Summit failures in New York should be wake-up call

22 Sep 2011

A 'Political Declaration' on non-communicable diseases has been met with disappointment because it does not contain strong enough targets.

This week, world leaders signed up to the "Political Declaration" at the United Nations "High Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases" at the UN General Assembly in New York City, 19-20 September 2011.

No time bound goals or targets

The declaration was met with disappointment by consumer and public health campaigners. Despite recognising the severity of the threat from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the declaration does not contain any time bound goals or targets. Instead, the WHO has been requested to submit "options for strengthening and facilitating multisectoral action" by the end of 2012, and to prepare a review in 2014.

Private sector role

The declaration also fails to clearly define the role of the private sector in prevention and control of NCDS, recommending throughout the document cooperation "as appropriate".

Consumers International (CI), along with 139 other organisations, has signed up to a statement of concern by the Conflicts of Interest Coalition calling for the establishment of a code of conduct to govern civil society engagement in which the process of policy development is protected from the influence of the for-profit sector.

Consumers International

The NCD summit was attended for CI by Michael Hansen of Consumers Union in the USA, and by the head of the CI Kuala Lumpur office, Indrani Thuraisingham. Thuraisingham was invited to speak at a roundtable session on "fostering international cooperation."  She raised concerns over conflicts of interest and lamented the lack of time bound targets:

"We can only hope that the failure of this summit to deliver more ambitious outcomes will be a 'wake up call' to all member states and create a new sense of purpose that will lead to the development of ambitious global targets and indicators on NCDs before the end of 2012. It is important that this summit leads to intensification in international efforts rather than a sense of pessimism.'

Read Consumers International's proposed outcomes for the UN NCD high level meeting (pdf).

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