Cambodia: UN Country Mission To Tackle NCDs
Republished from The Phnom Penh Post
By Dr Liu Yunguo, WHO representative for Cambodia, and Nick Beresford, country director for the United Nations Development Programme, written on behalf of the United Nations Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.
The past century witnessed a global revolution in the control of communicable diseases. This was accomplished by improved access to clean water and sanitation, and by applying new scientific knowledge to population-based public health strategies and services, such as universal vaccine coverage to protect children against diseases such as measles and polio. In the 21st century, the unprecedented rise of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), particularly diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and chronic respiratory disease, pose a new and urgent threat that may overwhelm these gains.
There is clear evidence that the burden of NCDs in Cambodia is increasing. In 2014, these diseases caused more than half (52%) of all deaths in Cambodia, up from 46 percent in 2011. Nearly one in every five NCD deaths are people under age 70.
There is growing recognition that failing to control NCDs will threaten the attainment of national health targets and development goals.
There is no single policy or intervention that can ensure success in meeting the Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing premature mortality from NCDs by 2030. Most premature deaths are associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices. The main avoidable risk factors for NCDs are poor diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol and tobacco.
Data from Cambodia’s socio-economic surveys show a worrying trend of increasing alcohol consumption. Although much is known about effective strategies and policies that can make a difference, implementation and enforcement of these measures requires a whole-of-government and society approach.
To support these efforts and generate global support and resources for NCD prevention and control, then-United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the United Nations Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (UNIATF) in 2013, with the goal of helping countries mobilise health and nonhealth sectors of government to address the growing burden of NCDs through effective strategies.
The UNIATF is helping countries mobilise sectors within and, importantly, beyond health to address NCDs, by promoting a whole-of-government approach. It coordinates the activities of fellow UN organisations, civil society players and other multilateral bodies to support national governments in implementing the high-level commitments of the 2011 UN Political Declaration on NCDs, the Outcome Document of the 2014 High-level Meeting on NCDs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its related Sustainable Development Goals.
This task force will be in Cambodia from August 7 through August 10, to undertake a joint programming mission in collaboration with several United Nations agencies that are supporting efforts to strengthen multisectoral response to NCDs.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance is also working closely with WHO and the Ministry of Health to increase taxation on tobacco products. Similarly, supply and demand reduction measures are needed to reduce harm from alcohol. The government has also demonstrated commitment through the development of a draft national multisectoral action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs, a clear framework for multisectoral action in several areas, which includes specific roles for various ministries.
With all this in mind, the UNIATF and UN agencies in Cambodia are committed to strengthening Cambodia’s capacity to prevent and control NCDs and ensure a healthy and a sustainable future.”