Chronic respiratory diseases

61st World Health Assembly (19-24 May 2008)

WHO Director-General warns that asthma is on the rise "everywhere"

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan welcomes the delegates.
WHO/Oliver O'Hanlon

19 May 2008 -- The 61st session of the World Health Assembly opened today. Officials from all 193 WHO Member States began the annual task of reviewing progress and setting new priorities for the coming year. The action plan on noncommunicable diseases (including chronic respiratory diseases) is among the key issues on this year's agenda.

"Any discussion of health development must include chronic noncommunicable diseases" said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan during her opening speech. "Heart disease and cancer now rank as leading killers in all parts of the world, regardless of a country’s income status. Diabetes and asthma are on the rise everywhere."

"Chronic noncommunicable diseases are bringing greater disease burden, accounting for more than half of the global mortalities and global morbidity story" added Dr Leslie Ramsammy, President of the 61st World Health Assembly. "One of my colleagues, Sir George Alleyne, calls it the silent tsunami. I have often referred to it as a festering sore."

In 2007, by adopting a resolution on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, the World Health Assembly requested the Director-General to prepare an action plan. The action plan sets out objectives and actions to be implemented over the next six years in order to prevent and control noncommunicable diseases (such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) at national, regional and global levels.

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