ASCO Statement on the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases

September 20, 2011

Susie Tappouni

The UN General Assembly today concluded a two-day High-Level Meeting to address the epidemic of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease. The meeting was called to address the growing burden of these diseases, which are the world’s leading killers and will continue to be without combined efforts of our global leadership and medical communities.

ASCO strongly supports the Political Declaration unanimously adopted at the Meeting by Member States as a powerful demonstration of commitment by countries around the world to reverse the epidemic of cancer and other NCDs, and save millions of people from preventable death and disability. The Declaration contains an agreement to establish specific targets by 2012 for combatting NCDs and a mechanism for measuring progress towards those targets. In addition, the Declaration includes commitments to increase access to safe, affordable, effective and quality medicines and palliative care services, and calls for increased resources for NCDs through domestic, bilateral and multilateral channels.

In remarks delivered by world leaders attending the High-Level Meeting and in subsequent roundtable discussions, there was universal acknowledgment that NCDs pose a critical global health threat to which the world’s response has to date been inadequate. Today, an estimated 63 percent of all deaths are due to NCDs, and 80 percent of these deaths occur in less developed countries.

If the world does not act, the impact on developed and less developed countries alike could be catastrophic. Beyond the suffering that these diseases inflict on the patients, their families and communities, there is a very real economic threat. According to the World Economic Forum, NCDs could cost $47 trillion in lost productivity and medical costs over the next two decades.

“For many years ASCO has been aware of this growing issue, particularly as it relates to cancer, and we are glad to see it recognized by our world leaders,” said Allen Lichter, MD, CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). “The Political Declaration on NCDs is of enormous importance to the cancer community and organizations like ASCO in particular. We look forward to establishment of the Declaration targets and identifying opportunities to match our ongoing efforts against them.”

Dr. Lichter is available to offer insight into the significance of the Political Declaration and ASCO’s global initiatives. To schedule an interview, please contact Susie Tappouni at 571-483-1355 or


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About ASCO

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. For ASCO information and resources, visit Patient-oriented cancer information is available at