Remarks by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at a UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
New York, NY
September 19, 2011


Mr. President, distinguished co-chairs, Your Excellencies: I’m honored to represent the United States today at this important meeting.

For many years, the international community has joined forces to battle infectious diseases. Working together, we have reduced the devastating toll taken by illnesses like malaria and HIV/AIDS. While much work remains to be done, we have shown that when the nations of the world come together, we can achieve great improvements in health.

Today, we are here to discuss how we can marshal this same international commitment and collaboration to confront chronic diseases, which are a growing burden for the United States – where they account for seven out of every ten deaths – and for so many other countries around the world.

Under President Obama, the United States has made taking on chronic disease a major focus. Last week for example, we announced a new initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. And our First Lady, Michelle Obama, is leading a national effort to end childhood obesity within a generation.

We have also made chronic disease a focus in our research and global health programs. Later this week, along with other public and private partners, we will be announcing a major new Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to help promote smoke-free workplaces around the world.

And we are also launching a global public-private partnership to support tobacco cessation efforts using mobile phone technologies that are now widely available in middle and low income countries.

These partnerships reflect our belief that in order to turn the tide on chronic disease, we must recruit partners from outside government and from outside the health sector. To stay healthy, people need more than high-quality care. They also need clean air and water, nutritious, affordable food, and healthy living spaces – and we need to work with partners that can help us achieve these goals.

In the years to come, we must maintain our focus on chronic disease, even as we also continue our work to reduce the toll of infectious disease around the world. The United States welcomes the opportunity today to learn from the public health efforts of our neighbors around the globe – and ask what steps we can take together to reduce the burden of chronic disease on the people of the world.

Thank you.