I am pleased to send greetings to this important gathering. The global epidemic of non-communicable diseases is a major and growing challenge to development. Each year, in developing countries alone, strokes, heart attacks, cancer, diabetes or asthma kill more than 12 million people between the ages of 30 and 70. It is possible to prevent most of these deaths. We need a set of simple, effective and affordable solutions for all Member States that can be tailored to each country’s needs. The draft outcome document before you helps chart the way forward.
Three years ago we agreed that it is time to act. We asked governments to protect their citizens from NCD risk factors, provide responsive health systems and track the trends of this epidemic. We also called on civil society and the private sector to help us implement new policies, so the scale of the problem would not prevent us from achieving the Millennium Development Goals. As a result, more governments are now providing institutional, legal, financial and service arrangements to prevent and control NCDs.
Last year I established the United Nations Interagency Task Force on Non-Communicable Diseases, with the World Health Organisation in the lead. It is assisting countries to implement the WHO Global NCD Action Plan, which aims for a 25 per cent reduction in premature deaths from NCDs by 2025. Improved global monitoring and improved co-ordination will provide the foundation for advocacy, policy development and global action. And this high-level meeting can help frame the concrete actions that countries should take between now and the third High-Level Meeting on NCDs in 2018.
Success will depend on finding new ways to strengthen the ability of countries to adopt bolder measures. The World Health Organisation has a special role to play. It has a proven ability to influence policy and build capacity, and a long-standing role as a trusted partner working across sectors. The WHO will continue to lead. But the rapidly growing demand for technical assistance means the United Nations system as a whole must incorporate NCDs as a priority and develop innovative partnerships. We need strong leadership and action from other sectors and non-State actors. We need to improve access to affordable medicines for NCDs. And we must find new ways of encouraging the private sector to stop marketing unhealthy foods to children and produce more foods that are low in fat, sugar and salt.
The actions you have identified in the draft outcome document can help remove the barriers to good health that blight the lives of too many people. Let us leave this meeting energized, inspired and committed to the course we have embarked on.
I wish you a productive meeting.