RIYADH — Participants of an international conference on healthy lifestyles and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that concluded here Wednesday have emphasized the right of every individual to enjoy the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health through prevention and control.
Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah opened the International Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Non-Communicable Diseases in the Arab World and the Middle East at Al-Faisaliyah Hotel in Riyadh Sunday night in the presence of 14 other health ministers.
In the Riyadh Declaration issued at the end of the four-day conference, the participating countries reaffirmed their commitment to the UN General Assembly Political Declaration (UNGAPD) on NCD Prevention and Control.
The document contained a host of recommendations for preventing and controlling NCDs. The participants called for developing an integrated plan across all government levels, based on the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs and to adopt a “whole-of-government” approach in legislation, regulations and policy actions for an effective and comprehensive response to the NCD threat.
The document highlighted that NCDs, principally cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases, are the leading causes of preventable morbidity, mortality and disability worldwide. It said these conditions are growing in the Middle East region at a faster pace as a consequence of rising levels of known risk factors.
Several countries of the region have the highest rates of diabetes, obesity and inactivity worldwide. Persistent exposure to risk factors such as tobacco and worsening environmental pollution is contributing to increased burden of chronic respiratory conditions, cardiovascular diseases and cancers, the document stated.
The conference said concerted action by the political leadership was essential to reduce the risk factors. It emphasized the need for non-health sectors such as finance, agriculture, sports, transport, education, urban planning, environment, industry, trade and others actively engaging in action to combat NCDs. In parallel, joint efforts with civil society, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academia and the private sector are essential, the participants said.
The declaration urged acceleration of the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and existing norms endorsed by the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of WHO, relevant to NCD prevention and control, and to strengthen national health information systems.
It also sought a review of infrastructural and technological investments in healthcare systems, and the development of adequately trained human resources to achieve the broader goals of equity, fairness in coverage and responsiveness by 2025.
The Riyadh Declaration also called for enhancing and promoting the use of innovative media tools and communications technology to improve the implementation of NCD prevention and control programs, and recognizing the importance of maternity and child health and nutrition in preventing future NCDs.