UN Summit on NCDs

On 13 May 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously passed a Resolution (64/265) to hold a High-Level Summit on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in September 2011. The Resolution is the result of a campaign led by the NCD Alliance, comprised of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), and the World Heart Federation (WHF).

In total, 130 States cosponsored the resolution, signalling that the world has recognized the urgency and priority of addressing the growing threat posed by NCDs. The Summit will raise the profile of NCDs on the global stage, mobilize the international community to take action, secure the commitment of Heads of State to lead the cross-government effort necessary to reverse the epidemic, and send a clear message to donors and funders. The HIV/AIDS Special Session held in 2001 resulted in a Heads of State Declaration of Commitment that paved the way for an urgent international response. It also led to the creation of the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, which has raised nearly US $10 billion in development funding for low- and middle-income countries (LMCs).

On 23 December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Modalities Resolution, a key milestone in the road towards the UN Summit. The Resolution, adopted by governments at the UN, determines the length, outcomes and other key details of the UN Summit, and strongly influences whether the Summit will be a turning point for diabetes and NCDs.

The UN High-Level Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases held on 19-20 September 2011 in New York was a major milestone in the history of global health and development. For only the second time the UN General Assembly devoted its exclusive attention to a health-related issue, and world leaders made unprecedented commitments to accelerate global progress on diabetes and NCDs.

The level of participation by Heads of State and Government and UN and international agencies at the Summit, as well as the number of statements made by countries and other stakeholders underscore the importance of the issues. A record 34 Heads of State and Government attended, and 120 Member States made statements expressing their concern about the global burden of NCDs and committing themselves to action. The Summit brought together dedicated people from all over the world to share experiences and solutions in the numerous side events, and energised the global NCD community to take action.

The most significant output of the Summit was the Political Declaration on NCD Prevention and Control adopted unanimously at the meeting by 193 Member States. The Political Declaration includes a set of commitments that firmly position diabetes and NCDs at the top of global and national health and development agendas. For the first time the world's governments have taken ownership and said in very strong language 'we have a problem and we need to fix it'.

Post UN Summit resources

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What is the focus of the Summit?

UN resolution 64/265 states that the Summit will focus on the ‘four most prominent non-communicable diseases, namely, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes’, and the ‘common risk factors of tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and environmental carcinogens.’

Who is it being organised by?

The UN Summit on NCDs (UNS) will be organized under the direction of the UN General Assembly, with the support of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The logistics will be organized by the UN Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM).

When and where will it take place?

The meeting will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 19 and 20 September.

Is it a Summit or a High-Level Meeting?

The official name for the meeting specified in UN Resolution 64/265 is a ‘High-Level Meeting with the participation of Heads of State and Government.’ Although this term is similar and nearly interchangeable with the term ‘Summit’, a Summit implies the attendance of Heads of State. Therefore, the NCD Alliance recommends usage of the term ‘UN Summit on NCDs (UNS)’ for referring to the meeting.

Why is it important?

The Summit is the biggest and best opportunity to put NCDs on the global agenda. It has the potential to secure commitment from Heads of Government for a coordinated global response to NCDs, substantially increase financial resources for NCDs and save millions from premature death and debilitating health complications. It also has the potential to lead to measurable targets and commitments from governments to take action on NCDs for which they can be monitored and held accountable through regular reporting.

What do we need to do to ensure the Summit is a turning point for NCDs?

Ensuring that major change results from the UNS requires concerted effort by all sectors in the lead-up to the event in order to agree specific measurable outcomes and results. Civil society has a critical role to play in shaping the agenda and in delivering concrete outcomes in partnership with governments and communities. 

Visit www.ncdalliance.org for more information about the Summit.