Health ministers meeting at the First Global Ministerial Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Noncommunicable Disease Control in Moscow last week called for new measures to intensify the fight against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

The Moscow Declaration, issued at the end of the two-day meeting, noted that NCDs-including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer-are now the leading causes of death throughout the world. It urged a multisectoral approach to prevention and treatment of these illnesses, including promotion of healthy lifestyles and stronger public policies to help individuals, families and communities make healthy choices.

"Many countries are now facing extraordinary challenges from the double burden of disease: communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases," notes the declaration. "This requires adapting health systems and health policies, and a shift from disease-centered to people-centered approaches and population health measures."

The declaration also notes that public health interventions have been developed that are evidence-based and cost-effective for preventing and controlling NCDs at the global, regional, national and local levels. Examples include tobacco control measures recommended in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and initiatives to reduce salt intake and the harmful use of alcohol.

Participating in the meeting from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) were Dr. Luiz Augusto Galvão, Area Manager for Sustainable Development and Environmental Health, and Dr. James Hospedales, Senior Advisor on Prevention and Control of Chronic Diseases.

Full text of the Moscow Declaration