Friends of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases side-event at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly
27 September 2018, New York, USA
Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
The United Nations Interagency Taskforce for NCDs was established by the UN Secretary-General in June 2013 and placed under WHO’s leadership.
Its terms of reference were adopted by ECOSOC in July 2014 and were based on the need to advocate for governments to meet high-level political commitments to respond to the global NCD epidemic.
The Task Force provides two important opportunities for NCD prevention and control.
First, it offers a solid coordination platform for UN agencies to work together to combat NCDs. That includes by advocating for NCD prevention and control beyond the health sector, for example by providing public goods such as socioeconomic development.
Second, because each UN agency has its own counterpart – or contact point – in government, the Task Force creates room for multiple agencies to work together at the national level. Through the Task Force, for example, WHO can work more closely with each country’s education sector.
As you appreciate, the Task Force’s most significant activity is country missions.
In the South-East Asia Region, five Task Force missions have been conducted in four countries: one in India, two in Sri Lanka, and one each in Bhutan and Thailand.
As part of these missions, in-depth reviews were undertaken to identify priority actions, with advocacy initiatives conducted among stakeholders and at the highest levels of government for their implementation.
The country missions provide great value in terms of building political commitment, providing technical guidance, and mobilizing UN country teams to pursue a comprehensive, multisectoral response to NCDs.
I see two key points of action for the Task Force going forward.
First, it must maintain its country missions and continue to provide political advocacy and technical inputs to Member States. As I have mentioned, these are immensely valuable.
It is nevertheless important that UN country teams reorganize the Task Force functions within the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, and that they create effective synergies, both in financial resource allocation and in providing technical support to the multisectoral response to NCDs.
Second, country ownership of the Task Force should be promoted, as well as ownership of the Global Coordinating Mechanism for NCD Prevention and control (GCM/NCD). This will maximize the potential use and benefit of these coordinating mechanisms and ensure they have the greatest possible impact.
At the same time, we must also build regional level Task Force actions, with a particular focus on resource mobilization.
WHO will continue to actively support Task Force missions and collaborate with other UN bodies to advocate for a cohesive response to NCDs within the UN.
As we heard this morning, the public health burden NCDs represent must be addressed as a priority. We must mobilize all possible avenues to take action against them.