Press releases

WHO Member States support action to cut deaths from noncommunicable diseases

Fifty-seventh session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific - 18 to 22 September 2006, Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand, 19 September 2006—The Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, the World Health Organization's governing body in the Region, meeting here today, offered strong support for a programme of action to achieve its target in the global goal of mortality reduction from noncommunicable diseases.

WHO has proposed a global goal for the prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCD) by achieving an additional 2% reduction in chronic disease death rates every year from 2005–2015. The goal focuses on an achievable level of prevention that may be targeted for individual countries depending on the current state of the epidemic.

An additional 2% reduction in chronic disease deaths every year over the next 10 years would mean 36 million lives saved worldwide by 2015.

In the Western Pacific Region, an estimated 25 000 people die every day from noncommunicable diseases, and over 20 000 of these deaths are in the Region's developing countries.

The economic impact of early death and disability, before age 60, is staggering. China, for example, is predicted to lose over US$ 550 billion from lost productivity alone between 2005 and 2015.

Last year, the Regional Committee reviewed WHO's work on this resolution, which led to a conceptual framework for action on four fronts:

  • National planning
  • Surveillance
  • Health promotion
  • Clinical prevention.

Although political commitment is evident in a number of national plans, there are weaknesses in the current regional situation. They are:

  • Domestic funding: Countries need to extend NCD programmes and establish them on a more secure, sustainable foundation of domestic funding sources, rather than on external development grants.
  • Organizational development: NCD organization units within ministries of health higher staffing levels to cope with the growing problem.
  • Partnerships: Specific multisectoral partnerships must be developed with collaborative work that is accountable and result-oriented.
  • Reorientation investment: The pattern of investment, within the NCD area of work, needs to be balanced between primary and tertiary care, and prevention.

The period 2006–2010 should see lessons learnt in the first six years (i.e. over 2000 to 2005 inclusive) applied to systematically scale up national responses, including the strengthening of health systems that prevent and combat noncommunicable diseases.


For more information and/or request for interviews, please contact:

Mr Peter Cordingley, WHO spokesman, at (+63) 918 9631564 or email:

Ms Marilu Lingad, assistant/Public Information Office, at (+63) 918 918 1094; New Zealand mobile: 0210596777 or email:


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