Chief Medical Officer,??Dr. Joy St. John. (FP)??

Chairman of the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Barbados’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, has pointed out that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) should no longer be considered an issue that persons need to confront solely on a personal level.??

Policies, she stated, needed to be put in place at a national level to address the population on a whole.?? To this end, Dr. St John has indicated that the recent agreement of WHO member states to a draft comprehensive global monitoring framework, including indicators and voluntary global targets for the prevention and control of NCDs, was a "major achievement".

The senior medical official made these comments in a recent interview with the Barbados Government Information Service before returning to Geneva to formally consider the framework and package of indicators and targets with her counterparts.

The framework is expected to be multi-sectoral and applicable across regional and country settings and will monitor trends and assess progress made in the implementation of national strategies and plans on NCDs.?? It will be considered first by the WHO Executive Board during its 132nd session from January 21 to 29, and then submitted to the World Health Assembly in May for consideration and adoption.

"It is extremely exciting that we have made these achievements as a global collective, because the effects of NCDs are felt across the world.?? Even in countries where there are still issues with infectious diseases, NCDs are causing a great deal of illness and death and avoidable illness and death.?? We can no longer look at NCDs as something that someone needs to do on a personal level.?? There are several things that have to be done through policies at a national level and not just policies within Ministries of Health, multi-sectoral policies…to support individuals in making healthy lifestyle choices throughout the life course," she emphasised. ??????

In May last year, the World Health Assembly identified a global target of a 25 per cent reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025 and expressed support for additional work to reach consensus on targets relating to the four main risk factors – tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol.?? The global voluntary targets relate to raised blood pressure, tobacco use, salt, fat and alcohol intake, physical inactivity, obesity, cholesterol and health system responses such as availability of essential medicines for NCDs. A subsequent meeting took place in Geneva from November 5 to 7, where Member States reached consensus.??

"With a global framework, it is more likely for us to have product reformulation.?? I’m referring to high salt, high sugar and high fat foods which are usually globally available, but if we have a global framework we can seek to have product reformulation which will benefit all countries so that imported food will be of a healthy standard.?? The Action Plan will seek to not only give some guidelines but to make sure there is country

cooperation – so that what is working in one region can be shared with another region so that you can improve your services or you can learn what didn’t work so you don’t make those mistakes," Dr. St. John stressed.


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