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Changing the unhealthy lifestyles that fuel the growing epidemic of noncommunicable diseases-such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes-requires action beyond the health sector, said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) today, speaking in Moscow at the opening of the first global ministerial conference on healthy lifestyles and NCD control.

In presenting a new WHO Global status report on noncommunicable diseases, Dr. Chan said the global NCD epidemic presents a double challenge for public health, because of the enormous costs to health systems and because the factors driving the epidemic are largely outside the control of the health sector.

"Today, many of the threats to health that contribute to noncommuncable diseases come from corporations that are big, rich and powerful, driven by commercial interests and far less friendly to health," she said.

Click here for Dr. Chan's full remarks and here for more information on the global status report on NCDs.

This week's meeting in Moscow(April 28-29) was organized by the Russian Federation and WHO. Participating from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) are Dr. Luiz Augusto Galvão, Area Manager for Sustainable Development and Environmental Health, and Dr. James Hospedales, Senior Advisor on Prevention and Control of Chronic Diseases.

The conference has three main goals:

  • to highlight the magnitude and socio-economic impact of NCDs
  • to review international experience on NCD prevention and control
  • to provide evidence on the pressing need to strengthen global and national initiatives to prevent NCDs as part of national health plans and sustainable development frameworks.

The conference is being held in the lead-up to the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases, scheduled for 19-20 September 2011.

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