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Published: Tuesday 20 September 2011

Date: Sept 21 / 2:40 pm

At the BRICS Health Ministers’ Round Table conference was held on 20 September 2011, union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, the BRICS countries should have a roadmap to work in close cooperation to implement the political declaration. He stressed that it is essential for the treatment and management of NCDs that accessibility and affordability of medicines should not be hindered by TRIPS Plus measures. The BRICS Health Ministers conference concluded that detailed technical discussions would be held in the identified areas to work out the road map for collaboration.


Date: Sept 21 / 10:00 am

Delegates adopted a declaration calling for a multi-pronged campaign by governments, industry and civil society to curb the risk factors behind NCDs by 2013. These plans include controlling tobacco through price and tax measures and reducing marketing of unhealthy foods, high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sugars and salt, to children.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “Our collaboration is more than a public health necessity. NCDs are a threat to development.” But Conflict of Interest Coalition said that a clear commitment to implement prevention policies is still missing. "Effective public policy reform is the first casualty of timid “partnering” with companies that make products that contribute to an increase in disease risks or products that treat disease symptoms," they said in a press release.

They pointed out that the declaration is silent on specifics and short on solid commitment to regulations. For example, there was little on salt and sugar reduction in processed foods, easy-to-understand front-of-pack nutrition labelling, protecting children by banning the promotion of breast-milk substitutes and high-fat, -sugar and -salt foods to children.


Date: Sept 21 / 2:00

In the round table 3, it was accepted that international cooperation between government and between public and private organisation is needed for tackling NCDs. National action might not be sufficient. The new public health problem.

HIV/AIDS control is a good example of international cooperation. Also, international instruments like FCTC have been useful. Now more trade related codes of conduct are needed. International cooperation is also needed in surveillance and in case of food standards.

Representative from Thailand said that many corporations contributed to NCDs problem, and continued to try to weaken public health policy. While partnerships with the private sector were valuable and had helped the global community in many ways, partnerships with those companies that represented a “conflict of interest” with public health goals should not be pursued.

Down To Earth is reporting Live from UN General Assembly in New York. Keep visiting to know the latest on non-communicable diseases.


Sept 20 / 12:30

At the meeting, Union minister of health and family welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad talked about the triple burden of diseases that India faces. He talked about the programs in place to tackle chronic diseases. He emphasised on the need to focus on access to health care. "We must therefore address the issue of trade barriers which restrict access to affordable and newly developed medicines. It is vital to ensure universal access to medicines, including through the full use of the flexibilities contained in the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health," he said. He pointed out that the time is right to make concrete commitments on sharing global resources, technical expertise and best practices to build capacity to combat NCDs.


Sept 20 / 07.30

Participants at the round table 2 stressed for international cooperation to boost national prevention capacities in fighting NCDs. They said national efforts would benefit from policy solutions and sustainable health-care models supported by international conventions, programs and activities.

Representatives gave examples of successful policies in their countries. Iran’s representative said his country had banned advertising for certain foods containing unhealthy ingredients. France gave example of banning certain kinds of snack-vending machine. But representative from of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development that that more evidence is needed to show that these interventions lower the incidence and impact of non-communicable diseases.


Sept 20 / 07.00

At round table 1, the threat NCDs posed to economic development was discussed. It was concluded that the plan to tackle NCDs musk look for a multisectoral approach.

Speakers called for provision of healthy lifestyle options. Nauru’s representative said that servings of fresh fruits and vegetables were often more expensive than a pack of cigarettes. 43 per cent of Nauru's population is afflicted with diabetes, 54 per cent suffered from hypertension and 35 per cent had high cholesterol. Guyana’s representative said Government awareness programmes were no match for the marketing campaigns launched by manufacturers of processed foods and other unhealthy choices. Representative of the International Food and Beverage Association said members recognized the important role they had in helping prevent non-communicable diseases by reformulating products and ensuring responsible advertising.


Sept 19 / 23.30

The high level General Assembly meeting was attended by more than 30 heads of state and government, at least 100 other senior ministers and experts. They discussed a draft declaration which calls for a collaboration between governments, industry and civil society. “This will be a massive effort, but I am convinced we can succeed,” said Ban Ki-moon, UN General Secretary at the summit.

He called upon corporations that sell processed foods to act with the integrity. “There is a well-documented and shameful history of certain players in industry who ignored the science, sometimes even their own research, and put public health at risk to protect their own profits,” he said.

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