UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday highlighted the challenges the world faces in meeting the UN target on addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The UN's 2030 Agenda, developed in 2015, has set a target to reduce by one-third pre-mature mortality from NCDs by 2030.
Ghebreyesus warned at a UN General Assembly meeting that "we are dangerously off course," predicting that "at the current pace, less than half of the world's countries will meet that target."
However, he said "we can change course," adding "we could prevent 10 million of these deaths by 2025."
Ghebreyesus was referring to WHO's Best Buys, a set of 16 practical interventions that are "cost-effective and feasible for all countries including low- and middle-income countries".
Its list includes tobacco control measures, vaccination campaigns, and the production of food that contains less sugar, salt and fat.
Stressing that the "benefits go beyond health," he noted that "every dollar invested in the Best Buys, will yield a return of at least seven dollars."
He proposed the creation of a "coalition of champions" that would spearhead a three- to five-year commitment for the quick and intense implementation of the WHO interventions, and showcase their potential impact.
In his remarks, Ghebreyesus outlined a number of NCDs and asked delegates to stand up when they heard the disease that had killed someone they loved. "Heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, chronic Lyme disease, depression..."
As the list went on, one by one, all persons in the room got to their feet.
Every year, 41 million people are killed prematurely by preventable NCDs, which Ghebreyesus declared a "needless suffering, expense and death." The figure represents 70 percent of all deaths globally.
What's more, NCDs affect mostly the poor. Of that 41 million total, 85 percent are in developing countries.
Closing his remarks, the head of WHO said that three key things are needed in every country to win the "fight against NCDs" and achieve the UN 2030 target: political commitment, domestic investment and universal health coverage.