Ban marketing of unhealthy foods, drinks: WHO

Muscat:  Oman has entered into a partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent premature deaths at a Global Meeting in Muscat that seeks to accelerate progress on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)  Target 3.4 on Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health.

The WHO meeting includes interaction with directors of the NCD programs from participating countries where cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, cancers, and diabetes are a cause for a large number of premature deaths.

These diseases account for 70 per cents of all deaths worldwide, including the premature death of up to 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 70 years, said WHO.

WHO said that despite many proven interventions and commitments to combat noncommunicable diseases, the pace of progress has been slow and uneven. Low-cost solutions approved by the organization can save millions of lives and achieve economic growth.

To reduce exposure to tobacco and unhealthy foods and drinks, WHO solutions include banning the marketing and imposing taxes on these products, apart from providing access to basic health services for all groups of society.

According to WHO, children don’t consume food because it’s good. They consume because of advertising. Sugar is the biggest poison of the 21st Century.

The World Health Organization is organizing the Global Meeting to Accelerate Progress on SDG Target 3.4 on Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. The Meeting is hosted by the Government of the Sultanate of Oman from 9 to 12 December 2019 in Muscat.

The objectives of the Global Meeting are to strengthen the capacity of national NCD Directors and Managers in order to implement a set of priority interventions that will put their countries on a sustainable path to attain SDG target 3.4 on NCDs and mental health by 2030.

“We can save eight million by 2030 globally by adopting WHO recommended guidelines on tackling NCDs” said Akjemal Magtymova, WHO representative in her speech.

She stressed that the concept of strengthening primary health care for universal health coverage is an essential element to tackle non-communicable diseases because prevention as treatment is equally important.

She said, “Oman with its state-of-the-art primary health care services package – provides integrated, affordable care near residential communities. The government adopts population-based policies to ensure healthy environments to reduce risk factors for non-communicable diseases.”

Dr Ahmed Salim Saif Al Mandhari, WHO director for Eastern and Mediterranean and North Africa, said, “Along with all the human misery they cause, NCDs also impede social and economic development. They affect economically productive individuals, impoverish families, and impose a heavy burden on health systems and national economies.”

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He added, “People who suffer from non-communicable diseases and mental disorders are not often covered by the insurance umbrella, so they pay the pockets of the expenses of care they need, and do not get enough healthcare services.”

To fulfill the commitments made by Heads of State and Government in the Political Declarations of the UN General Assembly adopted in 2011, 2014 and 2018; contribute to the triple billion targets for WHO’s NCD-related actions set out in the 13thGlobal Programme of Work and to engage with non-State actors, taking into account national health priorities and objectives for a meaningful and effective contribution to the implementation of national responses to NCDs and mental health in order to reduce premature mortality from NCDs and promote mental health, while giving due regard to managing conflicts of interest.

In 2015, the world set an ambitious target to by 2030, reduce by one-third premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and wellbeing” (SDG target 3.4). In 2018, Heads of State and Government committed to putting their countries on a sustainable path to attain this target.

WHO has developed a new strategic plan to address the triple billion targets. NCDs and mental health are relevant to all three: progress towards universal health coverage will increase access to services to prevent, diagnose and treat NCDs, without out-of-pocket expenses impoverishing people; protecting people from the impact of health emergencies includes continuity of care for people who suffer from NCDs and mental health conditions; and improving health and well-being requires intensified action against the world’s leading causes of death and disease.

Oman Observer

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