Big win for cancer groups at World Health Assembly

May 31st, 2013

An international coalition of cancer organisations, including NBCF, has helped to secure a major victory in efforts to increase the global push to control non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer.

NCDs are the leading cause of death in the world. The four main non-communicable diseases – cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes – kill three in five people worldwide.

At the 66th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva this week, Member States unanimously adopted a groundbreaking resolution on NCDs. The resolution signals consensus on the three pillars of the global NCD architecture: action, accountability and co-ordination.

The resolution follows two previous landmark resolutions: in 2011 the cancer and NCD community made history with the adoption of the UN Political Declaration on NCDs. In 2012, the World Health assembly adopted a global target to reduce NCD mortality by 25% by 2025.

The key decisions in this week’s resolution are to

  • endorse the WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020
  • adopt the Global Monitoring Framework on NCDs, including nine global targets and 25 indicators
  • develop a global mechanism by the end of 2013 to co-ordinate activities and promote engagement of all actors in the global NCD response.

NBCF is a member of the Union for International Cancer Control and the NCD Alliance, both of which are heavily involved in advocating for the global control of NCDs.

NBCF Director, Research Investment, Dr Alison Butt, said the global cancer statistics were sobering and emphasised the importance of a global strategy for cancer.

“This year alone, nearly 8 million people will die of cancer and nearly 30 million are living with the disease,” she said. “Breast cancer dominates the globe, accounting for one in six cases of cancer worldwide and the most common cause of cancer in women in 145 countries.

“What is even more of a challenge is that the global burden of deaths from cancer is projected to increase to more than 13 million by 2030. Most of that will occur in the developing world, in countries with extremely limited health budgets and infrastructure, already devastated by HIV/AIDS and malaria.”