January 2011: On September 19th and 20th, world leaders will convene at the United Nations in New York for a High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) that will focus on the global threat of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.
ASCO has joined organizations in the cancer community, including the Union for International Cancer Control and the American Cancer Society, and in other specialties, including the American College of Cardiology, to advocate for a robust, impactful High-level Meeting. These collective efforts are having an impact. Last month, UN Member States approved a resolution calling for the meeting to produce an “action-oriented” outcomes document and for participation in the meeting by heads of state.
NCDs like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease account for a combined 35 million deaths a year, or an estimated 60 percent of global deaths. The World Economic Forum has highlighted NCDs as one of the three most likely and most severe risks to the global economy. And yet, NCDs receive less than 3 percent of global development assistance, and NCDs are entirely absent from the UN's Millennium Goals which define the world’s priorities in improving health and development.
The September High-level Meeting will be an historic event. Only once before in its 65-year history has the UN held such a summit on a health topic, in 2001 in the midst of the AIDS crisis, which led to an unprecedented international response to that disease and ultimately to the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Over the coming months, ASCO will be engaging in preparatory work with its partners, contributing to technical briefs and civil society recommendations to inform the discussions. Look for future communications from ASCO on the High-level Meeting and opportunities for the ASCO membership to advocate for a meeting that creates the conditions for lasting change.