ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organisation on Tuesday announced that it is setting up a new high-level global commission on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to discover innovative means of curbing diseases.
Pakistan’s Dr Sania Nishtar, who was a candidate for the top slot of the global health body, will head the commission.
This was announced by World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the 64th session of WHO’s Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean being held in Islamabad.
The commission’s aim, Dr Ghebreyesus explained, is to identify innovative ways to curb the world’s biggest causes of death and extend life expectancy for millions of people.
The commission will also support ongoing political efforts to accelerate action on cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and respiratory disease, as well as reducing suffering from mental health issues and the impact of violence and injuries.
Dr Nishtar, a prominent global advocate for action against NCDs, and a former federal health minister will lead the commission. Dr Nishtar has also previously served as the co-chair of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.
NCDs kill approximately 40 million people globally each year, accounting for 70 per cent of all global deaths. Around 15 million of these deaths occur in people between the ages of 30 and 69. Low and middle-income countries are particularly affected by NCDs where more than 80 per cent of all deaths from NCDs take place.
Violence and injuries also take an overwhelming toll on young people, particularly boys.
In 2015, world leaders had committed to reducing premature deaths from NCDs by a third by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
However, recent WHO reports indicate that the world will struggle to meet that target.
“We urgently need new approaches and action on a dramatically different scale if we are to stop people dying unnecessarily from non-communicable diseases,” said Dr Ghebreyesus.
“I am committed to engaging the very best people in the world to address our health challenges,” he added noting that Dr Nishtar will bring “impressive knowledge, credibility, and commitment” to the commission.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2017.