Assistant Minister for Global Health, Minister’s Secretariat
Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan
At the high-level meeting on the comprehensive review and assessment of the progress achieved in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases
10 July 2014
At the outset, on behalf of the Japanese delegation, I would like to express my gratitude at being given this opportunity to deliver a statement at the high-level meeting of the general assembly on the comprehensive review and assessment of the progress achieved in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). I would also like to express my sincere respect and appreciation to Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon; WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan; and UNDP Administrator, Miss Helen Clark for their outstanding efforts in convening this conference successfully.
Even now, when there are less than 540 days left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we are given a new task of devising future health strategies and coming to an agreement on a global health agenda beyond 2015. This task comes also in the context of an ever increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), not only developed countries but also developing countries. Developing countries therefore, face the challenge of having to address the double burden of both communicable diseases and NCDs.
Active discussion on the issue of global health is on-going in such fora as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Open Working Group toward the formulation of a Post-2015 Development Agenda. In this context, we sincerely welcome this high-level meeting on NCDs; which aims to stave off the threat of NCDs; itself one of the many important steps needed to ensure sustainable development.
Today, over 60 percent of annual global mortality is attributable to NCDs. Yet, as their development and progression are inextricably linked to lifestyle-related behaviors, NCDs are largely preventable through the implementation of appropriate measures. In tackling NCDs, it is essential to ensure a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, diagnosis and treatment; and in addition to ensure that all three of these aspects are working in parallel, and that healthcare systems themselves are stable and sustainable.
My delegation believes it crucial that all the patients with NCDs be able to access essential health services without suffering crushing or untenable financial burdens. In this regard, Japan reiterates that it is indispensable that NCDs be addressed through the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC), which ensures access to essential health services for all individuals while protecting them from financial risk. Furthermore, it is also important to address the social and environmental determinants of health toward the prevention of NCDs, and we expect a multi-sectorial - or so-called ‘health in all policy’ (HiAP) - approach to be established toward this end.
Japan has had a universal health-insurance system extending to all citizens for about the last 50 years. We were able to establish this low-cost and equitable system of ours even at an early stage of Japan’s economic development, and this system enabled us to greatly decrease such burdens as child mortality and the mortality rate of cerebro-vascular disease. My delegation believes that in part through the establishment of UHC and all its attending benefits, Japan managed to achieve its world-famous high standard of health and exemplary health indicators, including one of the longest average life expectancies in the world.
In 2013, Japan revised its “National Health Promotion Movement in the 21st Century (Health Japan 21)” policy in order to advance the overall movement and encourage the improvement of healthy lifestyles. Furthermore, in order to address the issues of cancer, cardio-vascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes, the second term of Health Japan 21 promotes primary prevention through behavior changes, including physical exercise and improvements in dietary patterns, and focuses on the prevention and control of the more severe complications of these diseases. Adding to voluntary personal preventive measures, such as improving one’s nutrition and diet, increasing one’s physical activity and exercise, and the reduction or cessation of drinking and smoking; we are also encouraging and strengthening the promotion of health through social policies.
Staying healthy enables people to exercise their choices, pursue greater opportunities and plan for their future. Health is one of the most essential components of human security, which Japan regards it as an important and crucial element for achievement of sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth. Allow me to conclude my remarks by ardently wishing that NCDs will be included as an important issue in the context of setting the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and expressing our belief that stronger implementation of measures against NCDs will help avert millions of deaths and untold suffering from these preventable diseases.
I would like to thank you all for your attention.