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Ambassador Cornado at the General Meeting of the Global Coordination Mechanism for the prevention and control of NCDs

The Permanent Representative of Italy to the International Organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Gian Lorenzo Cornado, took part today to the first day of the General Meeting of the Global Coordination Mechanism on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, co-organized by WHO and the Governments of Switzerland and Sri Lanka and co-sponsored by the Governments of Israel and Uruguay.
Speaking after the introductory remarks and the first high-level panel on the theme “Health systems response to NCDs”, Ambassador Cornado recalled that just six weeks ago, on September 27th, the Third High Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases took place at the margins of the UN General Assembly, and representatives of member States’ governments agreed on the text of an outcome document, the political declaration, that was long negotiated in New York. The text of the declaration – later incorporated in the UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/73/2, adopted last October 10th under Agenda item 119 – is a positive and balanced outcome, that allowed to reach consensus thanks to the constructive approach of all delegations involved in the negotiations, with Italy being one of the most active.

Ambassador Cornado highlighted that, unfortunately, several attempts were witnessed to go beyond the consensus reached by delegations with the political declaration, “reinterpreting” the will of Member States, selectively overstressing commitments and mentioning measures that were rejected during the negotiations. An example was the press release issued by WHO soon after the High Level Meeting which hinted at world leaders having agreed on “robust laws and fiscal measures to protect people from (…) unhealthy foods and other harmful products”, while such provisions do not appear in the outcome document and the term “unhealthy foods” and “unhealthy products” see no place in the text of the political declaration, which only speaks about “unhealthy diets” and “unhealthy lifestyles”. He also stressed how it has always been agreed by the scientific community and in United Nations Resolutions that, in terms of nutrition, there are no healthy or unhealthy foods but rather healthy and unhealthy diets.

With regards to interventions in nutrition domain, Italy strongly believes that the appropriate and most effective way to prevent and control non-communicable diseases require multi-sectoral strategies. These include the promotion of a balanced, healthy and sustainable diet, without excluding a priori any food and, at the same time, limiting the total intake of energy while encouraging the intake of fruits and vegetables and promoting physical activity.
Ambassador Cornado took this opportunity to call for a more open, coherent and transparent engagement of WHO with member States and to ask to avoid misleading campaigns which often, very often, are not supported by a solid scientific base.