Feature story

Uniting around a common agenda to address HIV and non-communicable diseases

19 September 2011

L to R: South African Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Director-General of WHO Dr Margaret Chan, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and US Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby participating in the UNAIDS and WHO event on NCDs and HIV.

At the United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS in New York this June Heads of State and Government adopted a new Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. As well as setting bold targets to scale-up the response to HIV by 2015, the declaration also included a commitment to work with partners to strengthen advocacy, policy and programmatic links between HIV and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

On 19 - 20 September 2011, Heads of State and Government are coming together at the United Nations in New York, this time to address the prevention and control of NCDs worldwide. The High Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of NCDs will provide unique opportunity for both NCD and HIV communities to work together for a common agenda.

"Maximizing synergies and integration has been a central focus for UNAIDS for many years,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. “AIDS is not an isolated disease, it is a movement which can be leveraged to benefit a wide range of health and development issues.”

AIDS is not an isolated disease, it is a movement which can be leveraged to benefit a wide range of health and development issues

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé

Non-communicable diseases––in particular cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes––are the biggest cause of death worldwide. More than 36 million people die annually from NCDs (63% of global deaths), including 9 million people who die too young, before the age of 60. More than 90% of these premature deaths from NCDs occur in developing countries and could have largely been prevented.

Experience in addressing HIV and NCDs shows that many of the challenges are common; organizing and delivering adequate prevention services; chronic treatment and care; addressing the social and environmental determinants of these health issues; and reaching people without access to services and people who are disproportionally affected by these diseases both particularly common in regions such as Sab-Saharan Africa.  

During the High Level Meeting, UNAIDS and WHO will co-host an event on Tuesday 20 September to unite participants around a common agenda to address NCDs and HIV. The panel will include the Director-General of WHO, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, the South African Minister of Health, the US Global AIDS Coordinator, WHO’s Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control and a representative from civil society.

Participants will discuss lessons learnt from experience in responding to NCD’s and HIV. They will also look at finding ways to scale-up action to broadly integrate HIV and NCD programmes, improve health systems and ensure that people most in need have access to services.