Speech/statement | Date: 2014-05-20 | Ministry of Health and Care Services
Norway welcomes the topic of this year's general debate. The evidence of adverse effects of climate change and air pollution on health is growing: WHO now estimates that over 7 million people die prematurely every year due to outdoor and indoor air pollution. That is every eight death worldwide. This makes air pollution one of the biggest single causes of disease and premature death, associated with cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Black carbon is the main polluting component, with a significant effect both on global warming and on health. We have the knowledge and technology on how to reduce such emissions; what we need is stronger national efforts and political commitments.
Therefore, to foster concrete action by joining forces, Norway and more than 80 other partners have established the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Together with other Member States, we aim at presenting a draft resolution on air pollution and health for submission to the WHA in 2015.
Last year, we adopted targets and indicators for NCDs and its main risk factors. Now it is time to follow up at national level. In Norway, we have adopted an NCD Action Plan that integrates both preventive as well as curative measures. We are in the process of establishing national targets in order to reach the goal of 25% reduction in premature mortality by 2025.
In order to reach this goal, primary health care must be strengthened. By increasing local capacity in the area of NCDs, we can deliver an integrated approach to prevention, early detection and treatment, AND effectiveness.
In the WHO constitution, health is defined as: "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". I find this ideal not fully achievable, neither for the individual nor for us as a society. A large part of our population will live with chronic diseases throughout or in large parts of their lives.
Thus, our health systems must enable people to live healthy with one or several diagnosis. Good health in this context is about mastering your everyday life and master your disease. This is a more inclusive approach to health. And as a Minister of Health, I must work to ensure that our health services are patient-centered and empower the individual.
In the UN General Assembly, discussions are ongoing on the new sustainable development goals. Health should form a strong and visible part of the new goals. I hope we can create a new set of goals that in addition to the existing MDGs, also include important challenges such as non-communicable disease, as well as air pollution and universal health coverage.
A main priority for the Norwegian government is to invest in education. If we want to achieve Universal Health Coverage globally, investing in education is a major cornerstone. Norway will therefore scale up our work in this field, with a particular focus on girls.
The fast growing challenge posed by antimicrobial resistance is of high concern to Norway. Domestically as well as internationally, this very concrete threat to public health calls for a significant scale up of our efforts. There is an urgent need to secure both access to- and responsible use of antimicrobials in all Member States. We also need to work towards reducing, in the broad sense of the word, the level of antimicrobial resistance in the environment.
We expect that this Assembly will address this pressing public health issue with determination, so that next year's draft action plan to be presented will be more ambitious and substantial than the 2001 action plan.