Thursday June 01, 2023

Dr Sania wins applause for rallying action on biggest killers

By Our Correspondent
September 13, 2019

Islamabad: The Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Wednesday thanked Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, for her outstanding work in leading the WHO Independent High-level Global Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Speaking at the final meeting of the Commission held on September 9 in Geneva, Dr. Tedros said, “I thank Sania Nishtar for her outstanding leadership in setting out the strategic directions for the work of the commission. Her commitment to working better together, characterised by innovative ideas and a sense of urgency, is helping to shape a WHO that responds to our changing world.”

The commission, which comprises prominent global health leaders, was established in October 2017 to identify innovative ways to curb the world’s biggest causes of death and extend life expectancy for millions of people. Collectively, NCDs (mainly cancer, diabetes, lung and heart diseases) kill 41 million people annually, accounting for 71 per cent of all deaths globally, 15 million of which occur between the ages of 30 and 70 years. Low- and middle-income countries are particularly affected by NCDs, with 4 out of 5 premature deaths from NCDs occurring in these countries.

“We need leaders to unite and take action to tackle the biggest killers of people. NCDs are the leading cause of medical impoverishment. They lead to catastrophic health expenditures and many who can’t afford forego healthcare,” said Dr. Sania adding, “Progress is possible and if we don’t take action, we’re going to see already fragile health systems across the world collapse.”

The commission’s first report, launched on June 1, 2018, demanded high-level political commitment from world leaders to redouble efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target to reduce premature death from NCDs by one-third by 2030 and to promote mental health and wellbeing.

The Commission’s second and final report will be launched on December 11, 2019 in Muscat during the high-level segment of the WHO Global Meeting on NCDs and Mental Health. The second report will call on world leaders to increase their political leadership for the development of national responses for the prevention and treatment of NCDs, include NCDs in social protection schemes and benefit packages for universal health coverage, promote partnerships for the public good, and establish a voluntary multi-donor trust fund to support low- and lower-middle income countries in developing national NCD responses.