As UN General Assembly renewed commitments to tackle non-communicable disease (NCDs) at its meeting in New York on 10 and 11 July, more than 160 international non-profit public interest groups and experts (including EPHA) submitted a joint statement calling for public health legal safeguards. The statement related to commercial trade agreements safeguards and protections against conflicts of interest in the policy development and agenda-setting of government organisations, especially involving industries with vested interests in the causes of and cures for NCDs.
The General Assembly reaffirmed its support for a 2011 political declaration to reduce the burden of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and respiratory diseases, caused by poor diet, tobacco, excess alcohol, and physical inactivity.
While some progress has been made in tobacco-reduction, and national governments have become wiser about what needs to be done about nutrition and alcohol, movement beyond the ideas stage has been limited, with no country or region emerging as a clear leader in terms of effort or achievement.
The policy outcome document of the meeting reaffirms collective commitment, actions and leadership; spells out national and international goals for greater, better and equal underlying determinants of population health (including trade); gives consideration for NCDs inclusion in the post-2015 development agenda; proposes a follow-up with submission to the General Assembly by the end of 2017, for consideration by Member States, a report on the progress achieved in the implementation of the present outcome document and of the political declaration of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of NCDs, in preparation for a comprehensive review, in 2018, of the progress achieved in the prevention and control of NCDs.
The joint statement that EPHA signed up to calls for public health legal safeguards in the context of commercial trade agreements and protections against conflicts of interest in the policy development and agenda-setting of government organisations, especially involving industries with vested interests in the causes of and cures for NCDs. Those considerations have been only lightly deliberated on in the outcome document and would need to receive further exploration in order to comprehensively protect public health.
See the full version of the NGO joint statement on the conflict of interest here. Some of EPHA member organisations have been already supportive to the issue. Other major signatories to the NGO statement include leaders of the following global and regional organisations from:
- Global Alcohol Policy Alliance,
- Health Action International,
- Int’l Assn. of Consumer Food Orgs,
- International Baby Food Action Network,
- World Action on Salt and Health,
- World Obesity Federation,
- World Public Health Nutrition,
- World Stroke Organization, and
- World Lung Foundation.
The meetings was webcast July 10-11, 2014 and archived at: http://webtv.un.org/
Outcome Document text: http://cspinet.org/canada/pdf/unitednations.a-68-l.53.asadopted.july10-2014.n1445490.pdf