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Myanmar held its inaugural conference focused on reducing tobacco use and other risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), exploring how to develop cost effective interventions at national and sub-national levels and, and how to raise public awareness.

More than 290 people attended the two-day event on 25-26 June, organised by the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS), including Minister of Health and Sports Dr Myint Htwe, members of parliament, social ministers and mayors, representatives from the World Health Organization, NGOs and civil society. The Union-supported conference was held in the capital city Nay Pyi Taw under the theme, ‘Uniting for saving lives and saving money’. It is now set to be an annual fixture.

The country’s role in the forthcoming United Nations High-Level Meeting (UN HLM) on NCDs was highlighted by the Minister of Health and Sports, who opened and closed the conference with calls for combined strength to tackle this increasing challenge to public health. At the UN HLM on NCDs in September this year, Myanmar will push for effective fiscal measures to reduce the burden of disease, including taxes on tobacco, alcohol and sugar.

“Myanmar has made significant advances in policies proven to reduce tobacco use in recent years. Similar measures for NCDs will prevent the escalation of diseases that are set to cripple health systems world over without decisive interventions,” said Dr Tara Singh Bam, The Union’s Deputy Director for the Western Pacific region. “Early adoption of the World Health Organization’s ‘best buys’ for NCDs will protect and promote health here both now, and in years to come.”

International speakers and national experts presented in a series of symposia, plenary sessions and panel discussions. The conference concluded with the declaration of 11 commitments, including adoption of WHO best buys on NCDs and scaling up of high impact policies to reduce tobacco use, the formation of a sub-national alliance to prevent NCDs, as well as coordination strategies and monitoring and evaluation processes.

 

 

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