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Pakistan’s Sania Nishtar to head WHO’s commission on noncommunicable diseases

UNITED NATIONS: The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the establishment of a high-level global commission on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which will be led by Pakistan’s Dr Sania Nishtar, to identify innovative ways to eradicate the world’s biggest causes of death, according to a statement.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We urgently need new approaches and action on a dramatically different scale if we are to stop people dying unnecessarily from noncommunicable diseases. I am committed to engaging the very best people in the world to address our health challenges”.

Nishtar, the commission’s chairperson, is a prominent global advocate for action against noncommunicable diseases, a former caretaker minister of Pakistan and a civil society activist.

NCD’s, including cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and respiratory disease, as well as mental health issues and impacts of violence and injuries kill about 40 million people globally each year, accounting for 70 per cent of all deaths. About 15 million of those deaths are in people between the ages of 30 and 69.

Low-and-middle-income countries account for more than 80 per cent of all deaths from NCDs. Violence and injuries take an overwhelming toll on young people, particularly boys.

In 2015, world leaders committed to reduce premature deaths from the diseases by one third by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Recent WHO reports indicate that the world will struggle to meet that target.

Later this month, ministers and other health leaders from around the world will review progress on this target at the WHO Global Conference on Noncommunicable Diseases in Montevideo, Uruguay.

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