Leading Health Organizations Urge Global Action to Improve Women-Centered Noncommunicable Disease Prevention

Women’s Health in the New Sustainable Development Goals Must Include Noncommunicable Diseases

September 25, 2015 Categories: Advisories & Comments

(New York, Sept. 25, 2015) —Global health leaders declared today that the United Nations’ new Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) must enable the prevention, control and management of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) for women and girls to reach their full potential. At an event organized by the Taskforce on Women and Non-Communicable Diseases (The Taskforce) and the American Heart Association (AHA), experts will discuss practical and cost-effective ways to integrate NCDs into existing health systems and programs. The Taskforce will issue three calls to action, urging countries to:

1.) Improve access to NCD treatment and care

2.) Strengthen health systems

3.) Initiate and sustain women-centered NCD prevention programs and policies.

NCDs, which predominately includes cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic lung disease, represent the defining global health crisis of our generation. According to a report from the World Health Organization, NCDs kill 18 million women each year and represent the leading cause of death worldwide. “We believe engaging women can help solve this challenge because women often direct their families’ choices towards healthy living,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of American Heart Association and Co-Chair of The Taskforce. “Women have the capacity to make a generational impact that will save lives,” Brown said. As host and moderator, Brown will lead a discussion among international thought-leaders working in the NCD space.

There is also increasing recognition that maternal and newborn health outcomes are linked to NCDs, including hypertension, obesity and diabetes. “We want to create a world that values and promotes every woman’s health throughout her life, and helps her prevent NCDs for herself and her entire family,” said Brown.

The First Lady of Zambia, Her Excellency, Esther Lungu, who is speaking at the event, will appeal to global leaders to emphasize the importance of women’s health. “Start with women. When you help women lead healthy lives, you will lift up all of society. Reduce health inequities by addressing NCDs for women in lower and middle income countries. That is indeed the urgent need today as the world begins to implement the new SDGs,” said Lungu.

The Taskforce will share data from a study on the Impact of NCDs, implemented by Taskforce member Arogya World. This study of 10,000 women shows that one-third of the women in the 10 countries surveyed never had their blood pressure tested and half never had their blood sugar checked. And only 30 percent of the women said they have had a breast cancer screening test or cervical cancer screening test. 

“Data from the Arogya World Report shows that 25 percent of women spend 25 percent of their family income on NCDs,” said Dr. Gustavo Gonzalez-Canali, senior advisor to UN Women. “It is critical to that we take every effort to prevent the occurrence of NCDs and help women and countries effectively manage the staggering costs of NCD treatment. Universal health coverage and innovative financing mechanisms are a must for the new SDGs to gain traction.”

NCDs are among the greatest health and development challenges of the century. Two out of three deaths are caused by NCDs, 80 percent in the developing world.    

Tonight’s event will be held at Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.

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About the Taskforce on Women and Non-Communicable Diseases

The Taskforce on Women and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) brings together eighteen global health organizations from the women’s health and NCD communities to respond to the unique and growing burden of non-communicable diseases on women in low- and middle-income countries. The Taskforce’s goal is to disseminate information on evidence-based practices/programs and serve to advocate for policies that drive a gender-specific response to NCDs. 

The Taskforce aims to elevate the NCD-related agenda for health within the new SDGs (specifically, Goal #3, sub-goal #3.4: By 2030 reduce by one-third pre-mature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and wellbeing) and ensure that the prevention and control of NCDs is strongly linked to efforts to improve the health and social welfare of women and girls, so crucial to a country’s development. Learn more at http://www.womenandncds.org

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a global leader in the discovery and dissemination of heart disease and stroke science, and is widely known and highly respected as one of the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to preventing, treating and defeating cardiovascular diseases and stroke. 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. To learn more about the AHA, visit heart.org or call +1-800-242-8721. To learn more about the American Heart Association’s emergency cardiovascular care programs and other efforts around the world, visit international.heart.org.

Media Contact:

Amit Chitre | Amit.chitre@heart.org | (214) 706-2194