The Fourth World Health Organization (WHO) Global Forum on Chronic Disease Prevention and Control opened in Ottawa, Canada. The Forum brings together senior level country officials, international agencies and non-Governmental organizations, as well as chronic disease and public health experts from around the world to focus on the growing global burden of chronic diseases. Of the estimated 57 million global deaths last year, 33 million were attributed to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.
Chronic diseases are a major global health problem and a key barrier to development, to alleviating poverty and to making progress towards the Millennium Development Goals,” said Dr. LEE Jong-wook, WHO Director-General. “We know enough to act now. Cost-effective preventive and clinical interventions are available and need to be implemented globally. What we need are the resources to move from policy to action, and strong leadership from health ministries for coordinated national action.”
“Canada is pleased to be co-hosting this important meeting with the World Health Organization,” said Canada’s Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh. “Two out of three adult Canadians have one or more of the major risk factors leading to preventable chronic diseases – unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and smoking. The major challenge for Canada is to mount comprehensive multi-sectoral and multi-level preventive efforts to make a difference.”
The Forum is being hosted by the new Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada. The Agency is providing strategic leadership in developing integrated policies for the prevention and control of chronic diseases in Canada, and, through its WHO Collaborating Centre, the Agency also works to advance the global chronic disease prevention agenda. The Agency is also the lead partner on several disease specific initiatives – such as cancer and diabetes – and will continue to work with organized groups and governments dedicated to these issues nationally and internationally.
The total cost to Canada of illness, disability, and death from the four leading preventable chronic diseases – cardiovascular, cancer, respiratory and diabetes – is estimated at C$45 billion annually, said Canadian Minister of State (Public Health) Dr. Carolyn Bennett. The cost in terms of quality of life is immeasurable. Although these chronic diseases are among the most common and costly health problems facing Canadians, they are also among the most preventable.