Noncommunicable Diseases

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Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), long considered diseases of little significance to global health, represent the greatest threat to economic development and human health. The main NCDs—diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory disease—are the world's number one killer and bear the greatest burden on the poor. On September 19-20, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convened a high-level meeting (HLM) on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases. The only other HLM held on a health issue in the past had been in 2001 for HIV/AIDS and resulted in ambitious targets, global surveillance, and billions of dollars in aid. The 2011 HLM for NCDs did not measure up to the previous meeting in funding, targets, or advocacy but gave birth to a series of commitments in the form of a political declaration. In this article, we discuss the extent to which NCD is effecting the global population, what has and has not transpired since the 2011 HLM, and what lies ahead if we are to successfully tackle this growing burden of disease before it grows beyond our reach.

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