India fighting against non-communicable diseases: Azad


United Nations : As the UN General Assembly adopted the political declaration on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), India’s Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said India has already begun steps to tackle diseases like diabetes, heart ailments and cancer.

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“Screening of diabetics and hypertension is being carried out in 100 identified districts in 21 states and urban slums of 33 cities with more than 1 million population. Adult males above 30 years of age and pregnant women of all age groups are being screened,” Azad said in his address at the UN high-level meeting on NCDs Monday.

The NCDs together kill some 36 million people annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Our target is to screen about 150 million people by March 2012 under a pilot project,” said Azad, informing the delegates about India’s National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) and Stroke (NPCDCS).

The programme includes establishment of clinics at 100 district hospitals and 700 Community Health Centres (CHCs) for diagnosis and management of NCDs to ensure availability of life saving drugs.

In his address at the beginning of the summit Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said non-communicable diseases were a threat to development, and that there is an urgent need to combat them.

“Non-communicable diseases are a threat to development. NCDs hit the poor and vulnerable particularly hard, and drive them deeper into poverty,” said Ban.

At the meeting, health experts and world leaders from 193 nations will focus on NCDs’ developmental, social and economic impacts, particularly in developing countries.

The UN General Assembly has asked WHO to develop a framework for monitoring global progress and to prepare, before the end of 2012, recommendations for a set of global targets to monitor trends and assess the progress in countries to reduce the impact of these diseases.