HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: World Health Organisation (WHO) – South East Asia Region today urged governments to prioritise prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCD).
A press statement issued by the WHO regional office mentioned that they had issued ‘Jakarta Call for Action’ to combat the rising burden of NCD.
NCD are the leading cause of death in the 11-member states of Southeast Asia Region, accounting for 54 per cent of all deaths.
The rapidly rising trend of NCD has threatened poverty alleviation efforts and economic growth in the region, mentioned the statement. It also pointed out that NCD have a considerable economic impact as working-age adults, accounting for a large proportion of NCD burden in the region. It will reduce the Gross Domestic Product by an estimated one to five per cent in low and middle-income countries experiencing rapid economic growth, said WHO.
However, NCD prevention and control programmes have remained a low priority and are not included in the Millennium Development Goals. As a developmental and societal issue, NCD deserve to be given priority within official development assistance, mentioned the statement. WHO has called for investment in primary health care to address NCD, particularly focusing on health promotion and primary prevention. The primary health care approach is one of the most important strategies for combating NCD, read the statement.
WHO also said action plan by health ministries alone will not be adequate to reverse the NCD epidemic as the role of other sectors will be vital for creating environments to promote healthy lifestyles.
NCD are largely preventable by effective and feasible public health interventions that tackle major modifiable risk factors - tobacco use, improper diet, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol.
However, poverty, low levels of literacy and limited access to health care are important social determinants and an additional challenge for NCD prevention and control efforts in the region, said WHO.