Ladies and Gentlemen,
THE CHANGING PUBLIC HEALTH LANDSCAPE
- Our subject of discussion today is cancer.
- But this discussion takes place within a broader socio-economic trajectory.
- I would like to speak a little about this.
- For our public health landscape in Iran is changing.
- Increased urbanization.
- Ageing populations.
- Changing lifestyles that lead to a shift in dietary patterns.
- Environmental degradation.
- Weather and climate change which will come to influence the frequency of heatwaves, floods and storms as well as the transmission of infectious diseases.
- These all contribute to the shifting nature of the health risks we face.
- So, the point of my statement today is very simple.
- As our disease landscape changes, so too must we adapt not only our public health programmes, but also the social policies which affect Non-Communicable Diseases.
- Or NCDs.
- NCDs like cancer.
IRAN’S TRACK RECORD
- Now Iran’s national response to NCDs has, to date, been relatively good.
- Here are a few examples:
- Iran has put in place evidence-based national guidelines for the management of major NCDs.
- There is an NCD surveillance and monitoring system is in place to enable reporting against the 9 global NCD targets.
- The national programme for prevention and control of NCDs – which is in line with the Global Action Plan for NCD control and prevention – was launched by the ‘Supreme Council for Health & Food Security’ in July 2015.
- This is all very encouraging.
THE INTERNTIONAL SETTING
- And this approach will continue to receive support from initiatives at the global level.
- Our new Sustainable Development Goals – the SDGs – provide a blueprint to tackle global issues, including health, by the year 2030.
- And within the focus on “health” – or SDG3 – there is a sharper focus on NCDs.
- The main NCDs:
- cardio-vascular diseases (CVDs),
- chronic respiratory disorders (CRDs)
- and diabetes
- when grouped together, are among the world’s top 10 killers of human beings.
- Drivers are:
- Tobacco use,
- Unhealthy diet,
- Lack of exercise – leading to obesity,
- Harmful use of alcohol.
- And – so – we see the problem which Iran will increasingly face in the future.
ACTING OUTSIDE THE HEALTH SECTOR
- Now, for the past 2 days, much of this conference will have been devoted to medical solutions.
- And it is certainly important that we not overlook the importance of the bio-medical approach to health.
- But we can also make major improvements in health by simply taking coordinated action the health sector.
- This is especially the case when addressing the impact of NCDs like cancer.
- For example, the SDGs also include several other targets that aim to reduce the exposure of people to carcinogens by creating a healthier environment with less pollution and contamination of air, water and soil (for example, Target 3.9).
- So, for us to be able to work towards achieving this challenging global agenda, action on the social determinants of NCDs should take place both within and outside our health sector.
- This can happen:
- If our leaders provide the right policy environment.
- If we take care of our air quality, and our food quality.
- If our legal framework to enforce sound policy is strong.
- It can happen if we govern equitably
- …if we are sensitive to human rights, including the right:
- to breathe clean air,
- drink clean water and
- eat food which is nutritious, affordable and accessible.
- And here is the best news of all.
- Just as social and economic factors influence health – good health, in turn, has a positive impact on social and economic development. On human development.
ROLE OF THE UN
- In all of this, the UN is here to help.
- At present, a significant amount of our development work in Iran focuses on the health sector.
- Our work in the past with the national authorities have mainly, been on communicable diseases – things like HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis.
- However, I am pleased to say that our new development framework which will guide our work from 2017-2021 now has one dedicated outcome specifically devoted to on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.
- The UN system in Iran will offer continued support to the Government’s efforts including in the following focus areas:
- tobacco control,
- the prevention and treatment of diabetes,
- cardiovascular disease,
- chronic respiratory diseases and cancer,
- addressing risk factors related to NCDs,
- and reducing mortality due to substance abuse.
UNDP CPD (2017-2021)
- On top of this, the recently-approved UNDP Country Programme 2017-2021 will also supporting the Government to address rapidly emerging NCDs, in strong collaboration with WHO.
- The primary focus of UNDP will include:
- supporting increased collaboration by public health and non-health sectors in the national NCD response;
- helping to develop the case for investment in combating NCDs;
- promoting and supporting the expansion and transition of Global Fund activities to NCD activities.
- supporting joint advocacy for innovative responses to NCDs.
- Our goal is to help put an end to these diseases.
- Together I believe we will succeed.
- The UN has already amassed a strong foundation of knowledge products and guidance on NCDs and social determinants of health.
- We are operating several global and regional work streams that address the social determinants of NCDs.
- And we are providing support to our counterparts here in Iran.
- And there is so much more we will do together
- In closing, I would like to congratulate the Iranian Cancer Association for having the vision to continue to raise awareness through events like the West Asia Cancer Conference.
- Please join me in thanking this team of committed professionals every success in building lasting partnerships.
- Let us urge others to follow suit.
- Achieving the global goals will require us to work collaboratively and strengthen our health systems in tackling the challenges we are to face.
- In this task the UN system in Iran stands ready to assist in finding solutions to NCDs – including cancer.