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Norwegian Statement at the Launch of the second WHO Global Status

Statement by Ambassador Steffen Kongstad, Monday 19 January 2015

The launch of the NCD global status report 2014 is an important milestone. It provides us with the messages and the data needed to catalyse and accelerate national action to prevent premature deaths from NCDs.

This is necessary because much work remains to be done. There is regrettably no evidence in the report of substantial gains made so far in preventing premature death from NCDs. Quite the opposite; a key message is that while some countries are making progress, the majority are not on course to meet the global NCD targets. This is an issue of concern, since making progress in the fight against NCDs is such an important element in achieving sustainable development. Member States need to give due consideration to this when the General Assembly later this year will consider adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.

I would like to highlight three key factors that has contributed and continues to be instrumental in the Norwegian approach to NCDs: 

Firstly, we have adopted a national, multi-sectoral plan with clear targets. Addressing the wide range of challenges stemming from NCDs cannot be done by the health sector alone. A national plan must engage sectors beyond health. Effectively addressing NCDs is a whole-of-Government responsibility and does require political determination to do so.

Secondly, targets, indicators and interventions in such a plan should be based on the best technical evidence provided by the WHO, and on the monitoring framework with the 9 voluntary targets and 25 indicators agreed at the WHA. There is no need to reinvent this wheel at national level.

Finally, in our endeavors to apply an inclusive cross-sectoral approach, Norway is exploring ways to engage with the private sector, as an additional measure to implementing policies through regulations and fiscal measures, while strictly safeguarding public health objectives. We have done so both on marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks to children and on the issue of reformulation of foods, including salt reduction. We find the preliminary results promising; demonstrating that the private sector is genuinely interested in contributing and that they are willing to commit, based on the conditions set by Government.

 Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the WHO with the work done so far on the Global Coordination mechanism for NCDs. We look forward to see how the working groups will be able to assist Member States in their efforts. The fact is that nothing but Government action in each country will produce the results.