Dear colleagues and friends,
Last week the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases was on the agenda of the General Assembly High-level Meeting of the United Nations in New York. This meeting marked a very important point in our work, in different ways. Recent figures point out that the four main non communicable diseases (NCDs) - cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes – not only kill three in five people worldwide, but also that 80% of related deaths occur in the developing world – and this rate keeps growing. They are also responsible for socioeconomic stagnation that keeps endangering the world. It is necessary to focus on these new challenges – while at the same time nobody can afford to do this at the cost of attention for the ‘traditional’ communicable killers diseases: Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV/Aids. Difficult as this shall be, there is another problem related to this. The fifth non-communicable disease that should have been addressed here is mental health. Unfortunately the international lobby for mental health, in which we play an active part, has not resulted in the inclusion of this important gap. That leaves us with a double challenge in the field of mental health: we shall continue to develop sustainable models for service delivery and we shall look for connections (important in terms of funding) with the other NCD’s. And at the same time, we need to scale up our advocacy activities to help keep mental health on the agenda.
Willem van de Put, general director