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Vital Stories

Our week at the United Nations General Assembly looked at future health gains under the SDGs

Wide of the Hall while PGA opens the meeting.
Year 1: Event to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda
and the Sustainable Development Goals

Last week, the United Nations General Assembly held its annual meeting in New York, the first since passage of the sustainable development goals last year.

While the focus on the UNGA was on refugees and migrants, key health issues were high on the agenda.

The threat of antimicrobial resistance was the subject of a high level meeting – just the fourth time in history a health issue has been discussed at the General Assembly.

Global leaders pledged to strengthen regulation of antimicrobials, improve knowledge and awareness, and promote best practices, moves welcomed by Vital Strategies.

Another health highlight – an address by Uruguay’s President Tabaré Vázquez on the leadership his country is taking on combating non-communicable diseases and tobacco use.

President Vázquez called for governments, the scientific community and civil society to work together to reduce NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease and cancer, by addressing tobacco use, alcohol misuse and unhealthy diets.

His Excellency TabarŽ V‡zquez, President of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay addresses the general debate of the General AssemblyÕs seventieth session.

Uruguay’s President Tabaré Vázquez addresses the United Nations General Assembly

The NCD Alliance hosted a UN General Assembly side event – Leveraging Solutions to Improve Access to Healthcare for People Living with NCDs.

Speakers discussed the need to scale-up solutions to improve access to and availability of NCD medicines, technologies, and services, particularly in low-and middle-income countries.

A highlight was from Dr Jaime Burrows, Vice Minister of Health, Chile, who spoke about how clear food labeling in his country is helping people make healthier choices.

Vital Stategies’ José Luis Castro opens the UN Side event hosted by the NCD Alliance

NCD Alliance Chair José Luis Castro (R) and Dr Jaime Burrows, Vice Minister of Health, Chile

The two-day Social Good Summit, also timed to take place during the UNGA and hosted by Mashable, included a talk by US Vice President Joe Biden’s on his Cancer Moonshot initiative. Mr. Biden is championing more cooperation and collaboration in cancer research, predicting massive progress in our fight against cancer by 2030.

US Vice President Joe Biden. Photo: Mashable

US Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke at the Social Good Summit about the importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in overcoming poverty and climate change.

US Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: Mashable

Also on the UNGA sidelines, WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control (US CDC) launched the Global Hearts Initiative to help prevent and control cardiovascular diseases. The initiative includes three technical packages, which focus on reducing tobacco consumption, reducing salt consumption and primary health care interventions.

Staying focused on the achievement of the health targets outlined in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, will bring us closer to achieving all of the Global Goals. We must keep this message clear as the focus shifts to the election of the next UN Secretary-General in the coming weeks.