Non-communicable diseases were once viewed to only afflict developing countries. Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, diabetes, and cancers – are rising quickly in low- and middle-income countries.
According to Deputy Assistant Secretary Nerissa Cook of Bureau of International Organization Affairs, the growing prevalence of NCDs has significant health, economic and social implications on the individual, national, and global levels.
“Non-action is bad public health, and the cost of non-action is too high.” -Ms. Cook
Ms. Cook stressed the NCDs receive too little attention given that they now represent the greatest global disease burden to all of humankind.
“If we are effectively to reverse the increased global rates of NCDs, we will need to use all the tools at our disposal. And so I’d like to speak with you today about one set of tools that might not ordinarily arise in this setting: multilateral diplomacy.”-Ms. Cook
Ms. Cook underscored that U.S. Government is pursuing several initiatives called as “health diplomacy” across the United Nations system. The initiatives aim to increase the involvement of key international partners in the global response to non-communicable diseases.
“When we talk about diplomatic engagement at the United Nations, it’s important to distinguish between what is often called the “two UNs.” On the one hand, there are political bodies, where national governments meet, discuss, and (sometimes) develop collective responses to shared challenges.” -Ms. Cook
According to Ms. Cook, the UN General Assembly is the political body with the broadest membership, with every government having a seat and a voice. She said it plays a key role as the venue where a truly global conversation can be had.
She stated that the U.S. Government welcomed the news that this September, the General Assembly will be focusing on the issue of NCDs at the High-Level Meeting to be attended by Heads of State or Government, and foreign and health ministers from around the world. She highlighted that the effort is a recognition that a concerted global response will be needed to address NCDs.
“The UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on NCDs is both the culmination of a very informative multilateral process around these issues in the last few years and the beginning of concerted action, galvanized and energized by political commitment at the highest level.”– Ms. Cook
Ms. Cook emphasized that as advocates of a broad and multi-stakeholder approach, the United States has strongly supported the expansive pool of contributors hailing from the NGO community, academia, and the private sector.