This week, it’s been my honor and privilege to represent the American Diabetes Association on the official U.S. Delegation to the United Nations High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). NCDs include diabetes, heart disease, cancer and chronic lung disease which, together, account for the deaths of 36 million people every year. Throughout the world, 366 million people have diabetes, and if we do not act now, that number is expected to balloon to 552 million by 2030.
One thing that’s become clear to me is we have far more questions than answers. How do we solve the problems presented by these deadly diseases? Based on the meeting, there are three things that really stand out:
1. We must raise awareness of the problems at hand. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon calls NCDs a “slow moving hurricane.” It can be hard to move to action to prevent something that seems so impossibly far away, but if we do not move now… act while we can… it will be too late.
2. We must work together. Many American and international organizations were in New York this week to work on the problems of NCDs. But our work on these issues… and the need to work together… has just begun. To make a dent in these problems, we must band together, speak with one voice whenever possible, and tackle these issues before they become an overwhelming burden to the global community.
3. We must make the economic case for intervention. The cost of NCDs is staggering. To paraphrase The Secretary General again, “treating NCDs can be affordable, but preventing them can cost next to nothing.” They have the potential to devour the benefits of economic gain from the past decades and we must act now to prevent that fall.
So, what can you do? Take steps towards prevention. These diseases are largely caused by lifestyle factors like poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and overconsumption of alcohol. By making changes today, like choosing more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lowering salt and trans fat intake, you’ll be on the path to a longer, happier life.
Step by step, we’re getting closer to stopping diabetes. In the meantime, help us spread the word by sharing this post with your friends and family.
In good health,
Larry Hausner, MBA
Chief Executive Officer