FOCUS ON NCDs
Global Action Plan for Non-Communicable Diseases
The World Health Organisation has recently released the final draft of their Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2013-2020, which was adopted during the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva earlier this year. The Global Action Plan provides a road map and a menu of policy options for Member States, WHO, international partners and private sector entities which, when implemented collectively, attain nine voluntary global targets, including a 25% relative reduction in premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases by 2025. In consultation with Member States and other relevant partners, the WHO Secretariat is developing a limited set of action plan indicators to inform reporting on progress of implementation of the WHO Global Action Plan for NCDs 2013-2020.
ASEAN Declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases
ASEAN member states have made a formal commitment to increase their efforts to meet the set of nine voluntary targets laid out in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Action Plan for Non-Communicable Diseases 2013-2020, with ASEAN leaders adopting the ‘Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on NCDs in ASEAN’ at the 23rd ASEAN Summit, held recently in Brunei. Reports from the summit note that ASEAN leaders agreed “on the urgent need to accelerate actions to reduce risk factors, taking into account cost-effective interventions recommended by the World Health Organisation.” The Declaration called for a multi-stakeholder approach, including NGOs and the private sector, for a common standing on healthier food choices.
ILSI Southeast Asia Region at the ASEAN Regional Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases
Following the adoption of the WHO Global Action Plan for NCDs 2013-2020, governments in ASEAN have already started adopting measures to meet the nine voluntary targets outlined in the action plan. The ASEAN Regional Forum on NCDs was held in October in Manila, Philippines, to review cost effective policy interventions recommended by the WHO to reduce risk factors for non-communicable disease. Universal reduction in sodium intake is one such recommendation, with a recent review commissioned by ILSI SEA Region showing that dietary sodium intakes of adults in Southeast Asian countries exceeded the WHO cut-off of 2 g Na/day. Foods that contributed significantly to sodium intakes were condiments and sauces, processed foods, and commercially prepared restaurant/vendor foods and snacks, however it was noted that dietary assessment methods, while useful, provided the least reliable estimates of sodium intake level, and there were no data available on children’s intakes. Among Southeast Asian countries, only Singapore made use of 24-hr urinary Na excretion analysis, considered the gold standard of measuring sodium intake.
ILSI Southeast Asia Region was invited to present the results of this study at the ASEAN Regional Forum on NCDs, attended by health ministry officials from ASEAN countries, in recognition of the important implications of these results for research and policy development in Southeast Asia. The study, entitled ‘Salt Intakes and Salt Reduction Initiatives in Southeast Asia: A Review’ will be published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2013, 22(4)). In addition, a systematic review on salt sensitivity and whether there is a genetic predisposition that predicts cardiovascular disease risk in Asian populations has been conducted by CSIRO, Australia in collaboration with ILSI Southeast Asia Region.
NEWS AND RESEARCH
New Research Centre for Nutrition and Disease Launched in Singapore
The Singapore Centre for Nutritional Sciences, Metabolic Diseases and Human Development (SiNMeD), launched recently in Singapore, aims to study the impact of lifestyle choices and nutrition on disease development in Asian populations, namely Malays, Indians and Chinese, and how various ethnic phenotypes react under the same environmental conditions, such as their tendency towards disease or level of insulin resistance. SiNMeD is a collaboration between the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS), which is part of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), and is currently funded by NUS and A*Star, aiming to eventually receive funding from the private sector.
Key research projects at SiNMeD include its metabolic-disease research project which will study obesity and insulin resistance in Asians, and its human-development programme, which will examine how nutrition for mothers and infants affects childhood development. Ongoing research project ‘Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO)’ led by Associate Professor Chong Yap Seng, Senior Consultant, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, National University Health System (NUHS), is Singapore’s largest and most comprehensive birth cohort study, and aims to provide valuable insight into the link between maternal/infant nutrition and the development of NCDs such as obesity and diabetes later in life, to aid in their prevention and management.
DOHaD 2013: 8th World Congress on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
The link between early-life nutrition and the development of non-communicable disease was examined at length at the DOHaD 2013 Congress, held from November 17-20 in Singapore. The Congress, opened by Minister for Health, Singapore, Mr. Gan Kim Yong, and convened by Congress Chair Prof. Chong Yap Seng and Program Committee Chair, Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and Program Director, Growth, Development and Metabolism, SICS, Singapore, was themed ‘From Science to Policy and Action’. The Congress aimed to aid scientists and clinicians to put their developmental origins of health and disease research into context, helping public policy makers develop and refine preventative approaches to the issues associated with the escalating burden of non-communicable diseases in both the developed and developing world.
ILSI Southeast Asia Region were one of the sponsors of DOHaD 2013, supporting the symposium session ‘Measuring Maternal and Child Health Nutrition’, chaired by Prof. Jeyakumar Henry, SICS, Singapore. This session included presentations on ‘Characterising the Diets of Women and Young Children: Experiences from the Southampton Women's Survey' by Dr. Sian Robinson, University of Southampton; 'Nutritional Insufficiency among Pre-pregnant and Pregnant Women in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia’ by Dr. Jacques Bindels, Danone; 'Practical Nutrition and Related Health Indicators on Program Implementation at Community Level' by Dr. Kraisid Tontisirin, Mahidol University; 'Detailed Phenotyping of Infant Dried Blood Spot Samples by Metabolomics and Lipidomics Reveals Extensive Differences by Age and Nutrition, by Dr. Philippa Prentice, University of Cambridge; and ‘Early Life Nutritional Programming of Obesity: Optimising Mother-Child Cohort Studies’ by Dr. Eline van der Beek, Danone Research - Centre for Specialised Nutrition.
NCD Alliance Puts Non-Communicable Diseases on the Global Agenda
The NCD Alliance was founded by four international NGO federations representing the four main NCDs, namely cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease, uniting a network of more than 2,000 non-governmental organizations in 170 countries. Their mission is to combat the NCD epidemic by putting health at the center of all policies, using targeted advocacy and outreach to ensure that NCDs are recognized by governments as a barrier to economic development and a major contributor to poverty. The NCD Alliance recently released a joint brief with the World Cancer Research Fund, titled ‘Food, Nutrition, Diet and Non-Communicable Diseases’, summarizing the evidence base behind the link between nutrition and NCDs and listing priority areas for action. For more information visit http://www.ncdalliance.org/
A Role for Social Media in Combating Non-Communicable Diseases
Social media is playing an increasingly important role in building awareness and advocacy in relation to public health, particularly amongst young people. NCDFREE is a global social movement against Non-Communicable Diseases that aims to create social and political action through sharing stories of people around the world affected by NCDs, and encouraging dialogue through an online community. Partner organization the NCD Action Network is a grass-roots movement of young people, students, and concerned citizens taking local and global action on NCDs.