March 2011: From September 19-20, 2011, world leaders will convene at the United Nations (UN) in New York for a Highlevel Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) that will focus on the global threat of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.
ASCO is working with the Union for International Cancer Control, the American Cancer Society, the American College of Cardiology, and others to advocate for a robust, impactful meeting. As a result of the collective efforts of these organizations, in December 2010, UN Member States approved a resolution calling for the meeting to produce an “actionoriented” outcomes document and for participation in the meeting by heads of state.
NCDs such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease account for a combined 35 million deaths per year, or an estimated 60% 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. Despite these realities, NCDs receive less than 3% of global development assistance, and NCDs are entirely absent from the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (un.org/millenniumgoals), which define the world’s priorities for 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. That meeting led to an unprecedented international response and ultimately to the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. ASCO will continue to engage in preparatory work with its partners. Look for future communications from ASCO on the High-level Meeting and opportunities for ASCO members to advocate for a meeting that creates the conditions for lasting change in the global response to cancer.