I am speaking on behalf of Australia and my own country, New Zealand.
In September of 2011, the General Assembly adopted a Political Declaration that recognised that death and disability from non-communicable diseases had reached epidemic proportions. Then, as now, non-communicable diseases represent a major threat to the economy and health of populations in all countries. NCDs push poor people further into poverty, and they impede achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Others today have made important remarks about the prevention and control of NCDs. We won’t repeat these, but will focus on the modalities for the comprehensive review.
In 2011, we all agreed NCDs are one of the major challenges for development in the twenty-first century. They are also avoidable.
The 2011 Political Declaration recognised that the knowledge and expertise to prevent deaths and disability from NCDs exists, and that there was political will to prevent these diseases, using a range of solutions identified in the Declaration.
We welcome the Secretary General’s report, prepared by the World Health Organisation, that sets out the progress achieved in realising the commitments made in the Political Declaration.
Unfortunately, the report shows that progress has not been as good as we hoped when the commitments were made. Concerted action is urgently needed in order to boost the momentum built in 2011.
Australia and New Zealand look forward to the comprehensive review called for in the Declaration. We see this as an opportunity to identify actions to achieve a world free of the burden of preventable non-communicable diseases.
We would welcome further clarification on the status of the Note by the Secretary-General (A/68/650) in relation to the comprehensive review. For example, is this the main input to the discussion on progress on implementation? Or will there be another report that provides a more detailed analysis of the individual commitments made as set out in paragraphs 43-59 in the declaration?
One area that we consider could be elaborated further includes the linkages between the commitments made in the declaration with the various outcomes and outputs of the 2014-17 strategic plans of the funds and programmes. The purpose would be to identify how support for national efforts in NCD prevention could be integrated into country and regional programmes.
Another area is clarification about the division of labour and coordination among entities in the UN development system, such as the inter-agency taskforce and other programmes with an NCD component, such as the UNDP Global Programme.
Australia and New Zealand favour a high-level meeting to review progress taking place in the current session of the General Assembly. Our preference is for a high-level event around July, and we see value in linking the timing to ECOSOC to maximise ministerial attendance.
We do not consider a renegotiation of the political declaration by heads of government and state is warranted or desirable. Therefore a meeting at ministerial level is most appropriate – possibly a day and a half. Civil society groups should be able to participate in some way. We support the idea of an informal NGO-hearing as happened in 2011.
Australia and New Zealand are open to the option of a negotiated outcome document, and we believe that whatever option is finally agreed upon, it should build on the 2011 Political Declaration and focus on the gaps in implementation. This should complement but not duplicate efforts by WHO, or matters under consideration by the WHA (such as terms of reference for a global monitoring mechanism).
We are also of the firm belief that the discussion in New York should remain focused on the development aspects of the global challenge of NCDs, which was the basis of the 2011 Political Declaration.
Finally Mr President,
Australia and New Zealand commend CARICOM for its leadership in bringing this issue before the General Assembly. We also support the Pacific nations in our neighbourhood in their efforts to address NCDs, and contribute to regional and global debates on the social and economic development impact of NCDs. This is an issue that is relevant to the SIDS Conference in early September.
We stand ready to support Jamaica and Belgium in their role as co-chairs of the review consultations, and all those States that are working to maintain the momentum generated by the 2011 High Level Meeting on NCDs.
Averting the NCD crisis is essential to ensuring that present and future generations have the chance to live long, healthy and productive lives.
Australia and New Zealand therefore welcome the opportunity to focus further attention on how to address this regional and global crisis, and to consider what can be done next.