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2009 REGIONAL MINISTERIAL MEETING ON “ADDRESSING NONCOMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND INJURIES: MAJOR CHALLENGES TO DEVELOPMENT IN THE 21st CENTURY

A regional ministerial meeting on the theme of “Addressing Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries: Major Challenges to Sustainable Development in the 21st Century” was held on 10-11 May in Doha, Qatar. The meeting, which was part of the preparatory process for the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), was hosted by the Government of Qatar and organized in cooperation with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA).

There has been increasing international awareness that cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, as well as injuries - particularly those caused by car crashes - represent a rapidly growing epidemic.  Already in 2005, these diseases accounted for 52% of all deaths in the region and, if no action is taken, will increase by 25% over the next 10 years. UNESCWA Member States have in particular very high rates of cardiovascular disease (27 per cent of all deaths in the region).  Similarly, injuries account for 11% of deaths in the region and are projected to increase to 13% in 2015.  Workable solutions are within reach and require the active involvement of ministries beyond the health sector.  Strengthening health systems to respond effectively and equitably to the needs of people with non communicable diseases and injuries is critical to economic development and poverty reduction.  There is clear evidence that prevention efforts addressing tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and injuries provide the highest return on investment and are therefore excellent socio-economic investments.

The event was opened by an introductory session on ‘Setting the stage for multi-sectoral action on public health’. The two-day meeting was structured around six panel discussions covering the global and regional magnitude of noncommunicable diseases and injuries, as well as the challenges, opportunities and initiatives to address these in the region.  

Participants included health ministers and policy makers from the member states of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) entrusted with the implementation of national development strategies. Experts, academia, UN system organizations and representatives of civil society and the private sector also have attended.

For more information on the meeting, please contact Mr. Alberto Padova, Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, UN/DESA (+1 212 963-4759, padova@un.org).

 

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