American Heart Association Granted Special Status by United Nations
DALLAS – The United Nations has granted the American Heart Association Special Consultative Status to provide expertise and resources in the global fight against cardiovascular diseases and stroke – the leading causes of death in the world.
The designation comes from the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council, which creates policy recommendations for the U.N. and its member states. The designation is the latest significant development in ongoing global work by the association, which is the United States’ oldest and largest voluntary health organization devoted to fighting heart disease and stroke.
“We are already a national leader in training, patient and public education, research and science, and advocacy to fight cardiovascular diseases and stroke. This designation is a tremendous opportunity for us to leverage our volunteers’ expertise to save and improve lives around the world,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of American Heart Association. “This status is equally important given the recent United Nations focus on addressing non-communicable diseases around the world, including heart disease and stroke.”
With its Special Consultative Status, the association will collaborate with others to work toward the World Health Organization’s goal of reducing chronic illness by 25 percent by 2025. Among other things, the designation means the association can designate official representatives to the U.N.’s headquarters in New York, provide written and oral testimony, and consult with other Special Consultative Status members on cardiovascular disease issues.
Cardiovascular diseases and stroke carry a tremendous human and financial toll for many countries. In 2010, the global cost of cardiovascular diseases is estimated at $863 billion in U.S. dollars. This cost is expected to increase by 22 percent to more than one trillion dollars by year 2030. The cardiovascular disease mortality rate in the U.S. has dropped 33 percent from 1999 to 2009. The stroke mortality rate has dropped 37 percent over the same time.
“Our evidence-based approaches have made a significant impact for millions of Americans,” Brown said. “We can apply many of these same approaches to become a global resource for building healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. At the same time, our interaction with other leading global health experts will support innovation to drive our heart-health improvement efforts here in the U.S.”
Working to reduce heart disease, stroke and other non-communicable diseases globally is critical to the American Heart Association. Brown served as a representative for non-governmental organizations on the U.S. delegation at a U.N. summit on addressing non-communicable diseases in 2011, which was only the second high-level U.N. Summit on a health issue.
The association is also a proud member of the NCD Alliance and has been engaged in follow-up activities from that 2011 summit, where U.N. member states made a historic commitment to take urgent action to address this global crisis. In May, U.N. member states adopted the global target for achieving a 25 percent reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025.
About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.