Press Release

Minister Reilly to attend UN meeting on Health

The Minister for Health Dr James Reilly will, next week, attend a United Nations High-level meeting in New York on health which will concentrate on the issue of the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

This special meeting, which be attended by ministers from over 50 countries, as well as by over 20 Heads of State and over 10 Heads of Government is only the second General Assembly meeting of the UN to be devoted to the issue of health.

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are the biggest cause of death worldwide. This important meeting will give an opportunity for Heads of State and Government to take action on an emerging issue that has major socio-economic impact.

A non-communicable disease is a medical condition which is non infectious. They are diseases of long duration such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis. They are also referred to as chronic diseases.

The World Health Organisation reports NCDs to be by far the leading cause of mortality in the world representing over 60% of all deaths. According to the United Nations, “The four main non-communicable diseases – cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes – kill three in five people worldwide, and cause great socioeconomic harm within all countries, particularly developing nations. The decision by the United Nations General Assembly to convene a High-Level Meeting on NCDs on 19-20 September 2011 presents a unique opportunity for the international community to take action against the epidemic, save millions of lives and enhance development initiatives.”

Minister Reilly will take the opportunity of the meeting to inform colleagues of the review of public health policies in Ireland with the aim of developing a high level policy framework. This major review, which is underway, will inform care programmes to protect health, promote healthier lifestyles as well as improving the environment in which we live and work. It will help prevent the emergence of risk factors and reduce chronic diseases and their burden to families and society.

(The review process, launched on the 13th of June 2011 is entitled Your Health is Your Wealth: a Policy Framework for a Healthier Ireland 2012 – 2020)

Here is a link to the website of the United Nations which gives details of the High-level Meeting.