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11 June, 2018

ISPAH at the World Health Assembly

The 71st Session of the World Health Assembly (WHA71) took place in Geneva from 21-26 May, where Member States discussed agenda items including NCDs, women and children's health, and physical activity. A key theme was preparation for the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs to be held in NYC on 27 September 3018. ISPAH Board member and GAPA Chair Trevor Shilton represented ISPAH on the Civil Society Working Group (pictured) which is bringing an NGO advocacy perspective to the UN and WHO processes.  

WHA71 also featured numerous side events, with over 25 NCD-related events scheduled throughout the week, commencing with Walk the Talk, a mass physical activity event to draw attention to NCD prevention and Control. 
Many Member States and speakers at side events highlighted the importance of fiscal policies on unhealthy commodities as proven public health measures to curb the growing burden of NCD and the need to exercise caution when embarking on multisectoral and multi-stakeholder partnerships.

ISPAH has taken brought attention through the above processes to: 
- Continued focus on the four main NCDs and the four main risk factors, with equal emphasis on each. We note that policies and programs are more advanced in some risk factor areas than others. Physical activity requires additional support and focus due to slower progress. This said, 2018 is an important year for physical activity, with the WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA) being discussed at WHA 71 and to be launched on 4 June 2018 in Lisbon. 
- Connections between the mitigation of air pollution and an increased focus on the importance of active transportation (walking, cycling and mass transit) as a primary strategy.  
- Healthy urban planning in cities, with due consideration to both mobility and land use.  These are vital strategies at the intersect between NCDs and a number of the SDGs. 
- We further drew attention to ISPAH’s Bangkok Declaration on Physical Activity for Global Health and Sustainable Development which outlines the many co-benefits of active living and physical activity across eight of the SDGs (see http://www.ispah.org/resources).  

While the NCD agenda is bringing stronger focus to NCD Control we suggested the WHO and UN processes draw stronger attention to the connection of healthy environments in reducing NCDs and promoting equity, and that it appropriately highlights the lack of health promotion and prevention services. 

Trevor Shilton, Chairman GAPA, ISPAH Board Member 

Pic: Meeting of the WHO NCD Civil Society Working Group for the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs, Geneva, May, 2018.

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