In high-level meeting, U.N. tackles growing threat of non-communicable diseases

September 20, 2011

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(AP/Wong Maye-E)
Two actors try to dissuade passersby from smoking, as part of a campaign by the Singapore Health Promotion Board.

This week marks a major breakthrough in global health policy. For the first time since the onset of the AIDS epidemic, the United Nations is hosting a high-level meeting for world leaders on a health-related issue. This time, public health officials are meeting to stop the spread of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, lung disease, cancer and diabetes. These non-communicable diseases account for 60 percent of deaths worldwide.

We speak to Dr. Judith Mackay, an expert in international public health policy who Time magazine hailed as one of the most influential people in the world. An advisor to the World Health Organization and the World Lung Foundation, Dr. Mackay is currently at the U.N. summit in New York. She tells us about the international community’s road map to improve health for all citizens and the obstacles that stand in the way.