ASEAN member states convene to address non-communicable diseases in the region

The Philippine Department of Health, in collaboration with the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN)Member States and other local and international partner agencies, hosts the historic ASEAN Conference on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)with the theme, “Working Together towards an Enabling Environment for a Healthy Lifestyle in the ASEAN Region,” on October 25-27 this yearin Manila.

The three-day commemorative event, held during the ASEAN Chairship of the Philippinesand the 50th Founding Anniversary of the ASEAN, is in fulfillment of the country’s international commitmentto the ASEAN Health Cluster 1 Work Programme 2016-2020 on Promoting Healthy Lifestyle, duly endorsed by the ASEAN Health Ministers. This is also in line with the commitments set in thePolitical Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, based on World Health Organization (WHO)set targets and the United Nation’s initiative on achieving Sustainable Development Goal number 3: Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-being for All at All Ages.Topics for discussion include priority health issues related to the promotion of healthy lifestyle as contained in the ASEAN Post 2015-Health Development Agenda namely: the prevention and control of NCDs; the reduction of tobacco consumption and harmful use of alcohol; the prevention of injuries; the promotion of occupational health; the promotion of mental health; the promotion of healthy and active ageing; and the promotion of good nutrition and healthy diet.

The regional event was prompted by the ASEAN Member States’ (AMS) growing concern over the increasing number of younger people from the Region’s low and middle-income groupswho are dying prematurely because of NCDs.These factors contribute to the rising global risks for mortality and disability whichresulted in the issuance of two important declarations in separate events: first, during 6th ASEAN Health Ministers’ Meeting on “Healthy ASEAN Lifestyle” in March 2002, and secondly, the Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on NCDs in ASEAN in October 2013. These declarations are both aimed towards the prevention and control of the spread of NCDs in the Region by accelerating actions to reduce the risk factors for NCDs through the WHO-recommended cost-effective interventions.

Around 400 participants are expected to attend this conference composed of delegates from the 10 AMS and the plus Three states,namely, China, Japan and South Korea; focal points from the ASEAN Secretariat, representatives from development partners such as the WHO, UNICEF,Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, among others, as well as local delegates from various regions of the country.

“There is a pressing need to step up actions against NCDs and their risk factors in the ASEAN Region. Coordinated action is needed, and Governments must take the initiative and be at the driver’s seat to bring in civil society, academia, business, legislators and policy-makers, and other stakeholders to promote health. Beating NCDs requires a comprehensive approach,”stressed OIC-Health Secretary Herminigildo V. Valle.