Experts Work Out Framework On Prevention Of Chronic Diseases

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Chronic Diseases

Public health specialists from the World Health Organization (WHO) and 12 of its member states met in Hong Kong to review a draft Framework to guide member countries to develop their own programme on the prevention of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD).

The meeting, entitled "The Second WHO Expert Consultation Meeting on Preventing Chronic Diseases: A Framework for Country Action", was hosted by the Department of Health of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG).

It was the follow-up of the first meeting held in Geneva early this year during which a work plan on chronic NCDs prevention framework was outlined.

In his concluding remarks at the meeting today (November 15) , the Chairman of the Working Group, Professor David Maclean noted that the meeting was very successful.

"During the four-day meeting, the draft Framework document received substantial critical review and revision with agreement reached on the major components. The meeting accomplished its goal to develop an important tool for countries to deal with the growing global epidemic of chronic NCD."

Also speaking at the meeting, the Director of Building Healthy Communities and Populations, Western Pacific Regional Office of WHO, Dr Linda Milan said chronic NCDs were a global problem that required complete yet urgent response.

"It was estimated that chronic diseases accounted for 60% of all deaths worldwide in 2005, and are projected to increase by 17% over the next 10 years.

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The most important fact about the leading chronic NCDs (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases) is that they share common risk factors. Smoking, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and unsafe sexual practices are key factors.

It has been shown that addressing these underlying behavioural risk factors would prevent: 80% of premature heart disease, 80% of premature stroke, 80% of type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancer," Dr Milan said.

"As many countries do not have comprehensive and integrated or individual strategies, policies or action plans to tackle the problem, more WHO technical support on these areas is essential in helping them to prevent and control chronic non-communicable diseases.

"The draft Framework that the experts reviewed at the Meeting would provide a "know-how" guide to assist countries or organizations in developing their own relevant policy, plan and programme," she said.

She said many governments, in collaboration with WHO and other partners, had seriously embarked on a systematic approach to address the threat caused by chronic diseases.

She was happy to learn that the Chief Executive of the HKSARG, Mr Donald Tsang, has stated in his 2007-2008 Policy Agenda that the HKSARG is going to develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent and control chronic diseases and enhance education to improve the population's health.

"Now, that is commitment from the highest level - something that many other countries are still very much working at achieving," Dr Milan said.

Regarding the efforts in Hong Kong, the Director of Health, Dr P Y Lam noted that the Government had pledged to develop a strategy to tackle the problem.

"We are now working with experts in different sectors, drawing references from overseas health promotion experiences, as well as recommendations of WHO to develop a strategic document for prevention and control of chronic diseases in Hong Kong.

"It will set out directions and key components for shaping an environment that is conduccive to the sustaining of Hong Kong people's health and well-being," Dr Lam said.

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