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May 25, 2017

Upcoming Global NCD Conference in Montevideo

I commend Uruguay’s leadership in non-communicable disease prevention and management, and for hosting the World Health Organization’s Global Conference on NCDs this October.

Uruguay’s President Tabaré Vázquez warned at the UN General Assembly last September that unless the epidemic of NCDs is urgently fought, the equivalent of more than one hundred thousand lives a day will be lost, poverty will deepen, and we will fall far short of meeting the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We cannot allow this to happen.

Today, I join with our incoming Director-General,Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Uruguay’s Minister of Health, Jorge Basso, other national health ministers, and many others.

We are here to emphasize the importance of the upcoming Global Conference on NCDs because it can accelerate our progress on reducing by one-third the premature deaths from NCDs in the next 12 years.

The Conference will bring Heads of State and Ministers, as well as UN agencies, academics, private sector and civil society together to discuss challenges and best practices.

The conference will help us enhance policy coherence. NCDs can be significantly reduced by a combination of changes—changes in governance, prevention, management and surveillance.

We will reach our NCD reduction goals more readily if we engage multiple sectors, including finance, trade, environment and agriculture — in addition to health.

In October, we will create a map of how to improve policy coherence and multi-sector involvement—which will be called the Montevideo Roadmap. With input from all stakeholders, we will take this Roadmap to the Third UN High Level meeting on NCDs in 2018.

In Montevideo, we will also showcase progress on NCD prevention and reduction in countries such as Uruguay, Chile, Mexico and Denmark. Reducing NCDs will happen only when national governments adopt global targets. We are proving in a growing number of countries that this is feasible.

Civil society can help all stakeholders to enhance government accountability. Civil society brings enormous value to the NCD response in the areas of advocacy, awareness, building the evidence base and technical expertise.

They say a river cuts through a rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.

NCDs will only decrease if we bring the power of a river together in the form of all the sectors and actions that can make it happen, and by never giving up.

The NCD Alliance champions our collective power, so that we may persist in saving lives.

I look forward to seeing all of you in Montevideo this October.

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