In preparation of the UN High-level Meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) held on 19-20 September 2011, the Department of Health held a two-day national NCD Summit on the 12th and 13th of September in Gauteng. The summit was led by the Minister of Health, the Deputy Minister of Health, Provincial Members of the Executive Council (MECs) for Health, UN representatives and leading experts in the field of NCDs. It provided participants, who came from the public and private sector, academia and civil society, an opportunity to collectively agree on strategies and targets to be reached in South Africa to improve the situation regarding NCDs.
NCDs have overtaken infectious diseases as the leading cause of death worldwide, with nearly 80 percent of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization. South Africa has been grappling with a high HIV prevalence over the past years and like many developing countries it is now also facing the rising tide of chronic diseases. NCDs are among the quadruple burden of disease which this country faces and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and mental illness are the most common. The management of NCDs has up to now been generally regarded as the problem of the Department of Health. However, the nature of the risk factors for NCDs demands that interventions are aligned to global and national policies which include, but are not exclusive to, health. The Departments of Trade and Industry, Basic Education, Higher Education, Water and Environmental Affairs, Science and Technology, Finance, Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Sports and Recreation and Social Development play critical roles in a comprehensive approach to the prevention and control of chronic diseases.
During the Summit, various committees deliberated on the current situation with regard to NCDs in South Africa and proposed solutions on how to reduce the incidence and prevalence through comprehensive and intersectoral interventions. The working groups covered: the role of civil society and social mobilisation in the prevention and control of NCDs; controlling NCDs through health systems strengthening; surveillance and research for the prevention and control of NCDs; dietary risk factor reduction; and intersectoral action on healthy lifestyles and NCD control.
A pioneering declaration on NCDs and ten NCD targets for South Africa resulted from the Summit. The latter includes:
During the Summit the major challenges that were noted included:
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