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UN Summit to Address the World's Major Emerging Health Threat

An aerobics instructor paid by the city leads an outdoor class of aerobics in a park during the ciclovia, a weekly event that takes place when more than 70 miles of city streets are shut down to vehicle traffic. The event, first started in Colombia in 1974, is one way the country's urban residents are able to incorporate more physical activity into their lives. © David Snyder / CDC Foundation
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Global health is facing a dramatic change. For the first time in human history, more people live in urban than rural areas. More people are overweight than underweight around the world. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease kill more people globally than infectious diseases. These four diseases share the common risk factors of tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol, as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol control.

Today in the United States, chronic diseases, including NCDs, account for 70 percent of deaths. Worldwide, NCDs kill over 35 million people each year, representing nearly two-thirds of the world's deaths. More than 80 percent of NCD-related deaths are in low- and middle-income countries, and nearly a third of those deaths occur before age 60.

NCDs represent an urgent and growing global public health emergency. NCDs cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year, and limit the activities of tens of millions more Americans. Low- and middle-income country economies are also set back by NCDs through increasing demands on health care systems and lost productivity.

Photo: United Nations conference

United Nations conference at the United Nations in New York, New York

United Nations Summit

To address this major emerging health threat, the United Nations is holding a high-level summit on NCDs. The summit will take place on September 19 and 20, 2011, in New York, bringing together global health leaders to create a strategy for addressing NCDs worldwide. The summit will focus on four of the most common NCDs—cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes—but many organizations attending the summit are likely to address a wide range of NCDs. Participants will discuss how to prevent millions of deaths from NCDs. Measures could include tobacco control, reducing the harmful use of alcohol, reducing salt intake, and promoting healthy diets and exercise.

CDC's Work on NCDs

CDC has a long history of working with partners to protect Americans and the global community from health threats. CDC has been working on global NCDs for over 20 years. Current CDC work with NCDs includes:

  • Field epidemiology training: CDC trains Ministry of Health staff in six countries—including Brazil, China, Colombia, Jordan, Thailand and Tanzania—to strengthen surveillance for NCDs and injuries, analyze and use NCDs data to build workforce capacity, and improve public health interventions to prevent or reduce the impact of NCDs.
  • Cervical cancer: CDC is collaborating with the Pan-American Health Organization to build capacity for cervical cancer screening in Latin America.
  • Hypertension and salt: CDC is collaborating in the evaluation of potential approaches to sodium reduction and is also starting work with China-CDC and others to plan and implement the Shan Dong Province Project, an initiative to support salt/sodium reduction and hypertension control throughout the province.
  • Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves: CDC is adding to the evidence base for preventing and controlling NCDs caused by household air pollution from cookstoves.
  • Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative: CDC is working with partners in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to expand the successful national cycle helmet campaign in Vietnam that increased motorcycle helmet use to 90 percent.
  • Tobacco control: CDC monitors the tobacco use epidemic through surveillance, provides tools for countries to translate data into policy, and advances research that promotes effective tobacco use control programs.
  • Promoting physical activity through Project GUIA: In collaboration with partners, CDC has funded the development of the Guide for Useful Interventions for Physical Activity in Brazil and Latin America ("Project GUIA"), which addresses physical inactivity and obesity by identifying, testing, and disseminating potentially effective interventions that promote physical activity in the Americas.
  • Global School-based Student Health Survey: CDC and WHO developed the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS) to help countries measure and assess risk behaviors and protective factors among students aged 13 to 15 years.

More Information

CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

 

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  • Page last reviewed: September 19, 2011
  • Page last updated: September 19, 2011
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