Media Coverage: Kiwi scientists to UN: Top 5 Priorities for Health

A review article published in the Lancet this week put forward health priorities aimed at tackling some of the worlds biggest killers – heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory disease.

A team of nearly 100 international health experts, led by New Zealander Professor Robert Beaglehole, called on heads of state and governments to commit to a coordinated set of feasible actions and interventions.

Reporting for the New Zealand Herald, Martin Johnston covered the story, interviewing Prof Beaglehole and examining how the review recommendations tie-in with New Zealands smokefree policies.

An excerpt (you can read the article in full here):

New Zealand health experts are leading a push to make the world largely smokefree by 2040.

Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole of Auckland University is the lead author of an article published today in Britain’s Lancet medical journal designed to up the pressure on the United Nations to adopt the target, building on the New Zealand Government’s own target of 2025.

Professor Beaglehole, his wife Emeritus Professor Ruth Bonita and Massey University researcher Professor Sally Casswell are the three New Zealand authors of the paper written on behalf of an international Lancet Action Group of academics and practitioners and an alliance of more than 800 groups committed to reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases.

They want to force the idea of the 2040 smokefree target in front of world leaders at the UN General Assembly high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases, to be held in New York in September.

The paper says the meeting is an unprecedented opportunity to create a sustained global movement against premature death and preventable sickness and disability from non-communicable diseases, mainly heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.

In the UK, Sarah Bosley also covered the release in her Global Health blog for the Guardian.

An excerpt (read the full post here):

Non-communicable diseases. The phrase is not just a mouthful, it’s unintelligible to most people. Yes, if you stop to think, it means anything that isn’t infectious or contagious. But whoever thinks in negatives?

However, in spite of the difficulty in communicating the non-communicable, there is a growing clamour for more attention to be paid to heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease – to give the five main health issues their proper names. Towards the end of this month, a World Health Organisation global forum will be held in Moscow, ahead of the first-ever meeting of health ministers to discuss what needs to be done. In September, an unprecedented UN high level meeting will be held in New York. It’s well time for NCDs – to give them the unhelpful blanket term – to be taken seriously.