… WHO reappoints Michael R. Bloomberg as Global Ambassador

By Chioma Obinna

A new Gallup survey on Wednesday showed strong global support for policies outlined in the World Health organisation, WHO, report to combat growing public health burden of non-communicable diseases.

Meanwhile, WHO has launched a new report, Global NCD Compact, calling on global leaders to take urgent action on non-communicable diseases, NCDs, responsible for 17 million premature deaths annually.

Launching the report at the first annual gathering of a Heads of State and Government Group for the Prevention of NCDs, led by the President of Ghana and the Prime Minister of Norway during the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA),  the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the two – year reappointment of Michael R. Bloomberg as WHO Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases and Injuries to accelerate action.

WHO also released a new report, “Invisible Numbers: The true scale of noncommunicable diseases,” and a data portal that for the first time, brings together all WHO data related to NCDs for 194 countries.

The report and portal highlight the extent of global NCD burden, risk factors, and the progress each country is making in their efforts to combat these diseases and conditions.

Every two seconds, someone under 70 somewhere in the world dies of an NCD. Non-communicable diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and lung disease now outnumber infectious disease as the top killers globally.

WHO Director General said the report is a reminder of the true scale of the threat posed by NCDs and their risk factors adding that there are cost-effective and globally applicable NCD interventions that every country, no matter its income level, can and should be using and benefitting from – saving lives and saving money.

He said: “I thank President Afuko-Addo, Prime Minister Støre and Michael Bloomberg for their leadership and vision in addressing this major global health issue.”

“Bloomberg’s reappointment comes at a critical juncture for public health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people living with NCDs faced worse outcomes than those without. Today, Gallup released a new survey commissioned by WHO and Bloomberg Philanthropies that found most respondents in five surveyed countries – including Colombia, India, Jordan, the United Republic of Tanzania  and the United States of America rank an NCD or NCD risk factor as the biggest health problem in their country.

“The public’s awareness of the links between NCDs and their risk factors such, as tobacco and alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets, and lack of physical activity, is low. Yet, the majority of people surveyed across all countries support a wide number of proven interventions and policies that can reduce deaths from NCDs, such as incorporating more green spaces in urban health design and increasing taxes on tobacco.”

The founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases and Injuries, Michael  Bloomberg said they have seen the critical importance of addressing a major risk factor in COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths.

“Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and cancer are the world’s biggest silent killers – but they can often be prevented with investment in proven, cost-effective interventions. I look forward to continuing to make life-saving investments in NCD and injury prevention alongside Dr Tedros and the WHO.”

He pledged Bloomberg continued support globally, national, and local efforts to protect people from NCDs and injuries.

“This work also advances the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3.4) target to reduce the global number of NCD deaths by one-third through high-impact, population-level policies and programmes implemented in cities across the world.”

NCDs cause nearly three-quarters of deaths worldwide. Every year, 17 million people under the age of 70 die of NCDs, 86 percent of whom live in low- and middle-income countries.

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