Media Center

Press Release

The Inter-American System Joins Forces to Tackle the Leading Cause of Deaths in the Americas: Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs)

  June 17, 2015

In the Americas Noncommunicable diseases (NCD), cause 80 percent of deaths -36 percent of them premature- and they particularly affect the poor. Faced with these challenges, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) have come together to lead a group of institutions, primarily from the Inter-American system.

During the event to launch the initiative, the OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, highlighted that "the health and welfare of our citizens is at the heart of the agenda of rights and equality of the OAS." "Noncommunicable diseases must be addressed comprehensively, hence, inter-governmental, inter-institutional and inter-sectoral collaboration is key to reducing their incidence."

The Director of PAHO/WHO, Dr. Carissa Etienne, stressed the need to take immediate action against this scourge. “NCDs are a burden not only on patients, their families and the health sector but on societies and economies as a whole. Fighting them requires creating health-supporting environments through partnerships with other sectors such as agriculture, education and trade,” she said explaining that these are the types of actions that the recently created Task Force will promote.

The Inter-American Task Force on NCDs, which also includes the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of the United Nations and the World Bank, was presented today at the OAS headquarters in Washington, DC as a response to concerns about the impact of these diseases in the human and economic development in the Americas. The Group aims to seek cooperation to accelerate the prevention and control of these diseases in the region.

According to PAHO/WHO, NCDs are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression, mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, that are linked to four common factors of risk behavior: tobacco consumption, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.

During the launch event of the Task Force, the "Declaration of Commitment: Strengthening Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases through Cooperative Action of the Inter-American System" was distributed to all participating organizations. This document recognizes that NCDs pose a serious threat to regional and national development of the Americas and that that there are large inequities in access to prevention and treatment services for NCDs within countries and between countries in the region. It also recognizes that the increasing prevalence of these diseases driven by social determinants, and that a disproportionate burden of NCDs falls on socially and economically vulnerable populations.

In the Declaration distributed today, agencies agree to coordinate with government sectors and civil society to develop a comprehensive, intensified and sustained response to NCDs, and to advocate for, and support the application of universal health coverage and universal access including strengthening of health systems, all these taking into account the gender aspects and the particularities of the most vulnerable populations.

Reference: E-201/15