Tackling cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in 53 countries: health ministers meet in Ashgabat,Turkmenistan

Copenhagen, 2 December 2013

Tobacco and alcohol use, obesity and physical inactivity are among the principal causes of death in the WHO European Region. Despite progress in tackling noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), more needs to be done, so WHO is bringing together 35 European Member States at the WHO European Ministerial Conference on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020, to be held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on 3–4 December to find opportunities for regional action and cooperation.

“Noncommunicable diseases kill. They kill silently, steadily, efficiently, and it is time to take action. Who hasn’t lost someone to a heart attack, cancer or diabetes? Most of these deaths are preventable; so is the loss of quality of life that comes in the wake of these diseases,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

Countries can learn from one another’s experience and initiatives to make informed changes in their responses to NCDs.

  • Some countries have achieved historic lows in the prevalence of tobacco use, even though Europe as a whole has the highest smoking prevalence globally. What are some countries doing right, and how can the rest of the Region follow?
  • Countries have involved a full range of government sectors in developing national action plans. What lessons can countries draw from one another?

Conference calls for action

At the Conference in Ashgabat, European health ministers are being asked to take stock of the achievements of past years and announce their commitment to joint action in the near and long terms. The Conference will consider three main themes:

  • what needs to be done to realize the vision of a tobacco-free Europe;
  • how social and economic development affects the unacceptably high rates of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes; and
  • what countries can learn from each other in tackling NCD prevention and control.

The Conference is expected to result in a declaration, which will express commitment to:

  • working across the whole of government;
  • adopting national targets aligned with global and regional mandates;
  • accelerating efforts towards tobacco control;
  • working collectively towards a tobacco-free Europe;
  • taking steps to improve the monitoring of NCDs; and
  • ensuring balanced and equitable investment in public health even in the face of financial constraints.

Further information on the Conference is available on the website of the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

For further information, contact:

Tina Kiær
Communications Officer
Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Life-course
Tel: +45 51 97 92 47 (mobile)
Email: tki@euro.who.int