Non-communicable diseases threat to development: UN chief

"Our collaboration is more than a public health necessity," Ban said Monday in his address at the opening of a UN high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

"Non-communicable diseases are a threat to development. NCDs hit the poor and vulnerable particularly hard, and drive them deeper into poverty," said Ban. Non-communicable diseases -- like cancer, diabetes, heart and lung diseases -- kill 36 million people annually, which represents 63 percent of the global deaths from all kinds of diseases.

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, president of the 66th session of the General Assembly, said NCDs have become a major impediment to the health and prosperity of nations. "Let there by no doubt that non-communicable diseases have reached epidemic proportions. NCDs are the biggest cause of death worldwide," he said.

At the meeting, health experts and world leaders from 193 nations will focus on NCDs' developmental, social and economic impacts, particularly in developing countries.

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