30 August 2012

Global experts outline key steps to help deliver the UN commitment for a 25% reduction in premature deaths through NCDs by 2025

Cancer control and government experts at the 2012 World Cancer Congress today outlined the priority actions needed to achieve the first United Nations’ goal on non-communicable diseases (NCDs); an overall reduction in premature deaths by 25% by 2025.

Four NCDs – cancer, heart and cardiovascular, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases – accounted for 63% of global deaths in 2010, and that number was predicted to grow significantly in the future. NCDs will cause an economic loss of output in low and middle income economies exceeding $7 trillion, a yearly loss equivalent to 4% of annual output in these countries.[1]

“The 25 by 25 goal set by the Member States at the World Health Assembly in May represents the single most important landmark decision taken by our generation in the fight against cancer and the other NCDs,” said Cary Adams, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), CEO. “For many years, UICC and its members have argued that the burden of cancer can be reduced, but only with the true engagement of national governments committed to plan, fund and drive a robust national cancer control plan agenda. The 25 by 25 goal now gives this effort purpose and focus. We applaud the steps taken by the UN to address cancer in our lifetime.”

To reflect the critical nature of meeting the ‘25 by 25’ goal, representatives from the international cancer community today emphasised the urgency required to deliver that goal.

Princess Dina Mired, Director General of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation, Jordan called on the UN to quickly translate the 25 by 25 goal into a meaningful Global Action Plan, detailing the steps required to reduce the risks of developing cancer, improving early detection rates and enhancing treatment and care capabilities around the world. “2025 may seem a long way ahead, but we must act now and insist that all countries place cancer at the heart of their health agenda. In Jordan, the King Hussein Cancer Centre has turned what was a severely under-resourced cancer-care setting into a success story. In just 15 years our passion and comprehensive approach has increased individuals’ chances of survival. It is imperative we replicate this elsewhere; we do not have time to waste.”

Although the UN goal is supported wholeheartedly by the world’s cancer community, they also believe that cancer should be recognised in the Millennium Development Goals (the MDGs). In 2000, world leaders agreed to 8 global targets to help free billions of people from poverty and other deprivations by 2015. With 2015 approaching, the UN is now consulting on a revised framework for these targets and the cancer community believes that cancer and the other NCDs must be included in their replacements.

“The American Cancer Society is taking a major step today to fight cancer globally by committing $2 million over the next three years towards our collaboration with UICC,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society and Past President of UICC (2002-2006). “This commitment will help dramatically improve access to pain medication worldwide, support the efforts to meet the '25 by 25' WHO goals, and support the development of cancer leaders worldwide.”

“Reducing the global burden of cancer and sustainable development are intrinsically linked, so inclusion of targets for the prevention and control of NCDs and cancers into any revised UN MDGs or similar new development framework makes perfect sense,” noted Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus of WHO’s Pan American Health Organization. “By signing the 2011 Political Declaration on NCDs, member states pledged commitments to tackling these diseases. Nations must now put these promises into action and focus on prioritising cancer control programmes, particularly developing world countries least equipped to cope with the environmental, social and economic impact of the disease.”

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