On September 27th, the Third UN High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases will discuss the report “Time to Deliver” made by the World Health Organization (WHO) High-Level Commission on NCDs. The document urges the countries that compose the organization to promote legislative and economic measures to ensure health coverage. It also recommends governments to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry and vaccine manufacturers to ensure access to essential drugs. The Executive and Legislative branches of UN member countries are expected to implement these recommendations through bills and executive measures in the coming months.
The report, which was published by the Commission June 1st, 2018, considers the progress made in combating NCDs to be insufficient and makes recommendations to international organizations, national governments and companies to improve people’s quality of life. It recommends, among other issues, that Heads of State and Government, rather than Ministers of Health alone, lead action against NCDs; the creation of a legislative and economic environment that integrates these diseases with Universal Health Coverage (UHC); and that governments negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry and vaccine manufacturers to ensure access to essential drugs.
“NCDs are one of the most important problems for all humanity, as they are responsible for more than 70 percent of morbidity and mortality in the world,” said Uruguayan President and head of the Commission Tabaré Vázquez, when the document was released Sept. 20th. He also pointed out that these diseases (mainly cancer) cost Latin America 1.5 billion dollars annually. Hence, the region’s governments must address the problem urgently. On the other hand, the Uruguayan Minister of Health, Jorge Basso, highlighted the importance of food guidelines, food labeling and control of abusive alcohol consumption bills in the fight against NCDs. NGOs such as the LAC Oncological Medicine Society and the Mexico Salud-Hable Coalition agree with Minister Basso, since they consider that governments should apply taxes to alcoholic beverages and ultra-processed foods in order to alleviate their harmful effects on public health.