downloadPresident Mogae,

My sister Sania,

Members of the Commission,

Excellencies, colleagues, friends,

Good morning, and welcome once again to WHO.

Over the past two years, you have worked hard to identify bold ways to address the global epidemics of noncommunicable diseases.

I thank you all for your efforts, especially my sister Sania Nishtar, and all the co-chairs.

The first phase was very successful. As Sania said, your report was launched more than a year ago and helped to shape the 2018 Political Declaration on NCDs.

This commitment that reflected all six is we hope going to influence the countries commitments.

I congratulate you for the work you have done in working groups during the second phase.

I have reviewed the 12 recommendations in the summary paper you have produced.

As a next step, I would like to suggest that the second report of the Commission be developed with a similar number of bold “game-changing” recommendations as the first report.

Some of the recommendations that caught my eye are the following five:

First, WHO needs to be more strategic, effective and efficient in supporting countries to establish national coordination mechanisms for NCDs and mental health. At present, only one-third of countries have such a mechanism.

One way of doing this is to help existing national HIV commissions to include NCDs. We are seeing this happening in Botswana and other countries.

Second, WHO needs to establish a strategic collaboration with cutting-edge specialists and media outlets to develop targeted media campaigns, in particular through the education system.

In our world of fake news, we need to make sure everyone understands the harms caused by tobacco and the excessive consumption of alcohol, fats, sugars and salt, and the benefits of healthy diets, physical activity, mental health and well-being.

We have started to work with FIFA, Google Fit and others to promote physical activity. We need to go even bigger and better.

Third, we must promote primary health care as the most powerful vehicle for delivering essential NCD and mental health services.

Our fight against NCDs can only succeed if it is part of our wider effort to achieve universal health coverage.

The Astana Declaration affirms that primary health care is the foundation of universal health coverage, and the forthcoming High-Level Meeting on UHC will echo that affirmation.

Fourth, WHO needs to establish a platform for exchange of best practices on engagement with the private sector, and to publish and track commitments and contributions.

Fifth, WHO and other interested UN organizations should establish a multi-donor voluntary contribution fund for the prevention and control of NCDs, based on public health needs in low- and lower-middle income countries, with governance under the WHO Secretariat.

There are many more recommendations that resonate with me. These are the five that I thought would be the most relevant.

Of course, it’s up to you to prioritize and to agree on the boldest game-changing recommendations that you will ask me to consider.

I look forward to the outcomes.

Once again, thank you for your commitment, and to giving your time and your talents to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.

I thank you.