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Public, Private Sectors Must Engage To Increase Chances Of Success In Fighting NCDs

“Some academics and non-profit organizations are skeptical of the motives of the increasing number of multinational companies who seek partnerships to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs),” Derek Yach, senior vice president of global health and agriculture policy at PepsiCo and former head of NCDs at WHO, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. He asks, “So how well is the private sector doing in tackling the rising pandemic of NCDs, which cause nearly two out of every three deaths in the world (80 percent of those in developing countries), the four main ones being cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes?” He continues, “The private sector is a major stakeholder in many ways — as employers; makers of food and medicines, sports gear and technology; as corporate citizens and consumers — and wants to be engaged in the global NCD dialogue. We deserve a seat at the table.”

“In the last 12 months, several initiatives aimed at improving access to diagnostics and treatments and reforming product formulation were announced by pharmaceutical, medical device and food and beverage companies,” Yach writes, and provides three examples. “We understand salt, sugar and fat consumption must be reduced, but the timing required to transform food products to reduced-salt versions, healthier oils and a wider range of fruits and vegetables is dependent not just on companies’ timetables or capabilities, but on factors beyond their reach,” such as food subsidies and low consumer knowledge about salt and calories, he adds. Yach concludes that at the one-year mark since the U.N. High-Level Meeting on NCDs, “there is a critical need for more private-public engagement in which the strengths of individual parties can be fully leveraged. If this happens, the likelihood of success is much greater than if each actor goes it alone” (9/21).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.