Getting the Politics Right for the September 2011 UN High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases
February 15, 2011
The UN General Assembly’s decision to convene a “high-level meeting on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide” in September 2011 creates a major, timely opportunity to elevate chronic diseases onto the global stage. Just as the 2001 UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS was a pivotal moment in the global response to AIDS, there is hope that the September session on NCDs can become a historic rallying point. But we need to be realistic. Time to prepare adequately is short. NCDs do not enjoy many of the advantages that helped propel AIDS to become a global priority. High-level leadership is thus far missing, and the odds are long that the September meeting will have a transformative impact. Important gains are indeed possible in September but only with disciplined pragmatism and urgent, focused action taken to seize the moment.
This report draws on several sources: an online qualitative survey, released to the public as well as to invited select experts, which resulted in 109 detailed responses; nine expert interviews with key leaders in global health; and recent reports on noncommunicable diseases by the Institute of Medicine, The Lancet, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Center for Global Development. The responses to the survey are available upon request, and we have drawn on these data to identify areas of agreement and challenges ahead.