GHC WHA Statement on Agenda Item 12.4 – Prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases

Chairperson, Honorable Ministers, distinguished delegates, colleagues:

Thank you for the opportunity to deliver this statement on behalf of the Global Health Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics. We strongly support implementing the road map of national commitments to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Among these are commitments to developing or strengthening surveillance systems to track social disparities relating to NCDs and their risk factors, which should include approaches that are sensitive to gender and age.

Millions of children and adolescents live with or are affected by NCDs, which are non-infectious diseases that cannot be spread person-to-person, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental disorders, and chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma. Half of adult NCDs begin in childhood and most of the behaviors that underlie NCDs start during adolescence. Children in low and middle-income countries who suffer from NCDs often die prematurely because of late diagnosis or lack of access to adequate treatment. They may also suffer long-term disabilities from chronic conditions that are not adequately managed. Children face unique challenges and require tailored solutions for the prevention, management and treatment of NCDs.

The reproductive/maternal/newborn/child/adolescent health continuum of care offers critical entry points to screen women for NCDs. Nearly 80% of pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries have at least one antenatal visit, providing a crucial opportunity for providing integrated services. Increasing exposure to NCD risk factors—including tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, and the harmful use of alcohol—not only impacts women’s and children’s health in the short term, but also threatens the health of future generations. Addressing these issues will help to advance progress by the third UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs in 2018.

Thank you.