GENEVA, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday that heads of state and government had committed to 13 new steps to tackle noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including cancers, heart and lung diseases, stroke, and diabetes, and to promoting mental health and well-being.
They committed to implementing a series of WHO-recommended policies to prevent and control NCDs, such as public education and awareness campaigns to promote healthier lifestyles, vaccinating against HPV virus to protect against cervical cancer and treating hypertension and diabetes, the WHO said.
The UN health agency estimates that implementing all these policies could generate 350 billion U.S. dollars in economic growth in low and lower-middle-income countries between now and 2030.
Other specific commitments focus on halting the rise of childhood obesity, promoting regular physical activity, reducing air pollution and improving mental health and wellbeing.
The political declaration reaffirms the WHO's global leadership of the fight to beat NCDs and promote mental health, and urges the WHO to continue working closely with key partners, including government, civil society and the private sector.
In particular, it calls on food manufacturers to take several actions, which include reformulating products to reduce salt, free sugars and saturated and industrially produced trans fats, using nutrition labelling on packaged food to inform consumers, and restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children.
According the latest WHO NCDs Country Profiles report, the risk of premature death from one of the four main NCDs had declined to 18 percent in 2016, a relative reduction of 5 percent from 2010.
However, the rate of progress is unlikely to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal target of a one-third reduction in premature deaths from NCDs by 2030. The report also found that significant gaps remain in health services and access to medicines and technologies to manage NCDs.
WHO statistics show that NCDs, primarily cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes, currently account for the deaths of seven in every 10 people worldwide, or 41 million in total. That includes 15 million in the prime ages of 30 to 69, mostly from developing countries. Mental conditions and disorders are a related concern, with depression alone affecting 300 million people.