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Minister Støre at the 66th World Health Assembly

Last updated: 23.05.2013 // Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services, Mr. Jonas Gahr Støre, attended the 66th World Health Assembly to lead a side-event on non-communicable diseases. The focus of the event was to share experiences on measures countries have introduced to drive national progress in this area.

Prevention and control of non-communicable diseases is one of the major topics for this year’s World Health Assembly. Minister Støre was accompanied by colleagues from South-Africa, United States, Ghana and Russian Federation, which all willingly shared their latest experiences and measures to prevent and control the rise in diseases like cancer, CBD, stroke and diabetes.

-Non-communicable diseases are truly a global challenge, Minister Støre said in his introductory remarks. – This challenge is affecting all countries in the world and it is critical for us as policymakers to learn from each other in how we handle it.

In their statements, the Ministers gave reflections from their respective country perspective on the challenges which addressing non-communicable diseases entail. One issue which was touched upon by many was to find the right balance between introducing regulatory measures and building support in public opinion.

-Why is it still allowed to smoke on UN grounds? Minister Motsoaledi from South-Africa challenged the WHO Secretariat. –This shows that it is not easy to introduce regulatory measures, even on an issue where there is very strong international consensus and we have the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Still, it is our responsibility as policy makers to introduce regulations and effective measures, as we must protect the health of our people.

USAs Secretary for Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius among other things underscored the commitment of Michelle Obama to the Let’s Move campaign, which aims at changing the habits of children and adolescents to prevent obesity and overweight.  Ghana’s Minister for Health, Sherry Ayittey, touched upon the challenges in preventing noncommunicable diseases where there is also a considerable burden of communicable diseases. Director at the Russian Ministry of Health, Marina Shevireva, focused her statement on the recent measures introduced in Russia in regards to tobacco control and harmful use of alcohol.

-It is our sincere hope that the voluntary global targets and indicators to monitor global trends will assist countries in their efforts to address this challenge, WHO Assistant Director-General Oleg Chestnov stated. – With the adoption of this framework, as well as the global action plan to prevent and control noncommunicable diseases, at the World Health Assembly, Member States will have a common point of departure to do further work in this area.

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