Director-General's Office

Opening remarks 4th Meeting of WHO Independent High-Level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Director-General of the World Health Organization

Geneva, Switzerland
23 August 2018

Excellencies, colleagues, friends,

First, I would like to thank you for the tremendous amount of work you put into producing your report, which we launched on the 1st of June this year.

I know this was difficult, particularly in view of the extremely tight timeframe you had, and that you faced a number of challenges.

I thank you for devoting your time and expertise to this important work.

Thank you too for your support in disseminating the report. I have been pleased to see that launches and other events are taking place in several regions. I hope you will continue to assist us with these, and to urge your own countries to host such events.

Your recommendations are important. Now the task before all of us is to help countries implement them. As you have rightly said, we have no time to waste; it is time to deliver.

The second phase of this Commission is different from the first, as we prepare for the Third High-level Meeting on NCDs in New York in just a few weeks’ time.

We have had intensive negotiations for several months, and we now have a draft outcome document.

The document contains some positive elements including 13 new commitments, but as many as you have already said, it’s not as strong as we had hoped.

At the moment, 47 Heads of State and Government have indicated they will attend the High-level Meeting. I’ve previously said we want to see 50 in the room, so we’re almost there. We will do reminders so we can have more than the target. If we want to really make an impact, we must be ambitious and aim high.

For the second phase, I would suggest three specific ways you can help:

First, we need your support to ensure commitment to beating NCDs at the highest levels of government. Addressing NCDs is a political choice. We need Presidents and Prime-Ministers to take ownership of this issue, to take ownership of reaching SDG target 3.4.

Second, we need more detail on some of your recommendations so that countries can argue for their implementation;

And third, we need you to be as visible and vocal as possible on the world stage, by engaging with WHO’s partners and other organizations who are our allies in this fight. We must use every opportunity to draw attention to the challenge of NCDs and the solutions we have.

Thank you once again for your commitment to this cause. I look forward to your deliberations today and to hearing about your plans for the upcoming year.

Thank you.