More resources for noncommunicable diseases

The policy declaration on prevention of and combating
noncommunicable diseases (cancer, diabetes, diseases of the cardiovascular
system and respiratory diseases) adopted by the General Assembly of the UN
obligates states to devote more resources to combating these diseases. 150
states gave their support to the declaration, including Russia. The director of
the UN’s information centre, Alexander Gorelik, spoke on the subject at a briefing
on the outcome of a meeting at the UN’s headquarters in New York. He pointed
out that there were many NGOs from different countries at the meeting However,
the not-for profit partnership, Equal Right to Life, was the only voluntary
organisation to be represented from the Russian Federation (RF).

 The executive director of Equal Right to Life, Dmitry Borisov, said
that noncommunicable diseases caused 60% of all deaths in the world, killing
over 36 million people annually. By 2030 they might be ‘costing’ governments
world wide 47 trillion dollars.. Around 80% of all deaths from noncommunicable
disease were attributable to cancer, sugar diabetes, and cardio-vascular and
respiratory diseases. The risk factors for all these diseases were the same:
smoking and alcohol consumption, insufficient physical exercise and poor



Mr Borisov went on to say that methods of prevention should include
combating smoking, alcoholism and excess weight, and advocating engagement in
sport. This is what the states that signed the declaration undertook to do.
Furthermore the member states of the UN agreed to encourage the population to
visit a doctor to obtain an early diagnosis of noncommunicable disease and to
ensure access to diagnostic and treatment

Mr Borisov said : ‘The tax on tobacco products is a financial weapon
in the fight against harmful habits that lead to noncommunicable diseases.
Russia has the lowest tax on tobacco in the world. Raising it would enable more
resources to be included in the budget for treating disease caused by smoking
tobacco’. He thought that Russians would rather diagnose their own condition
than go to see a doctor because the majority of people did not have access to
treatment for such diseases as cancer. In the USA the public did not see cancer
as a tragedy; they did have access to treatment. In the RF 300,000 people died
of cancer every year. In 2009 29.2% of those diagnosed to be suffering from
cancer had died. Mr Borisov characterised the resources currently allocated by the
government for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer as being inadequate.

The UN declaration alerts governments to the need to increase
budgetary provision to eliminate the risk factors (harmful habits etc.) for the
prevention of noncommunicable diseases and treating the cases that do arise.
Countries were also recommended to set up comprehensive programmes for
combating noncommunicable diseases.

The declaration states that the private sector and NGOs might help
governments with noncommunicable diseases. Thus manufacturers of drugs and
medical equipment could contribute to making treatment and prevention more
accessible. In turn, NGOs should control the quality of medical services and
the implementation of government guarantees.

The declaration should alert the ministry of health and social
development to introduce amendments to the Principles of the Social Services in
the RF Bill. Mr Borisov said that the provisions on early diagnosis and
treatment of noncommunicable diseases contained in the bill were very
‘streamlined’. He added that a voluntary insurance system should be added to
help the public to deal with problems of inaccessibility
of treatment for noncommunicable diseases. He stressed that once Russia had
signed the declaration, implementation would be obligatory. Moreover, at the
meeting in the UN headquarters, the country had undertaken the role of world
leader in the practical implementation of the document.


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