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Prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases discussed at the UN General Assembly on 27 September

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
26.9.2018 15.15 | Published in English on 27.9.2018 at 11.25
Press release 132/2018

In connection with the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, a high-level meeting is held to undertake a comprehensive review of the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. More than 30 heads of state from around the world are attending the meeting. Minister of Social Affairs and Health Pirkko Mattila is representing Finland at the meeting. The General Assembly will adopt a political declaration on reducing the disease burden of non-communicable diseases.

This Special Session of the UN General Assembly is based on the work of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Independent High-level Commission for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. Pirkko Mattila is one of the high-level Commission members who have been appointed to promote the prevention of non-communicable diseases globally. The WHO's Independent High-level Commission started its work last spring. President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö will co-chair the WHO Commission together with the Heads of State of Uruguay and Sri Lanka and the Health Minister of Russia.

Last summer the WHO Commission issued international recommendations on the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases. The recommendations call for urgent action from policy-makers to address the burden of chronic diseases and mental health problems across the globe. Success requires effort from all spheres of policy-making – it cannot be done by the health and social services sector alone. 

In 2015, around 40 million people died worldwide from non-communicable diseases, such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diseases of the respiratory system and diabetes. Of these, 15 million died prematurely. These diseases can be prevented and most premature deaths can be avoided. Preventive measures include, for example, changes to diets and physical activity, giving up smoking and reducing the use of alcohol. Even mental health skills can be improved. In addition to health benefits there are financial benefits because, according to WHO's new report, every dollar spent to prevent these diseases provides seven-fold savings.

Reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases and promoting mental health are among the objectives of Agenda 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.


Kari Synberg, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 106, +358 50 574 2297, [email protected]
Satu Leino, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 163 428, [email protected]
Sirpa Sarlio, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 328, +358 50 554 4419, [email protected]

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