2018 High Level Meeting on NCDs: An introduction

Side Event on making the right investments for cancer control at the 69th WHA
21 December 2017

Interested to understand more about the upcoming 2018 High Level Meeting on NCDs? Read on to find out about some of the opportunities, challenges and lessons learned for the cancer and NCD communities. 

Why does it matter?

In 2011, the UN convened the first High-Level Meeting (HLM) on NCDs. This was only the second time that Member States had convened a meeting on a health topic, and it promoted NCDs is a key political priority for governments and paved the way for national and global discussions and targets to reduce mortality and morbidity from NCDs. At this meeting UN Member States unanimously adopt the UN Political Declaration on NCDs, containing 22 action-orientated commitments to shape national NCD responses. In addition to this, the global community was charged with developing goals and targets for a comprehensive global monitoring framework for NCDs and a target of a 25% reduction in premature mortality by 2025.

The 2018 HLM will be the third time that UN Member States meet to review progress on NCDs and so for cancer and NCD advocates it represents a unique opportunity to:

  • Refocus attention and reinvigorate national commitments to tackle NCDs – this is particularly important as we can build on the momentum from the 2017 cancer resolution and the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Promote discussions about NCDs to the highest political level – this is needed to successfully develop new global and national targets to drive forward the implementation of national NCD and cancer control plans.
  • Galvanise consensus on international cooperation – we recognise that many countries cannot effectively respond to cancer and NCDs on their own and so there is a strong need for international cooperation by UN agencies, civil society groups, development agencies, funders etc. to support real change nationally.

Lessons learned

Following on from the first HLM in 2011 and the first review of progress in 2014, a number of clear lessons have been learned about how the cancer and NCD communities can make the most of the opportunities that the HLM offers.

The first of these is the critical importance of Head of State/Government engagement as individuals with the unique ability to raise cancer and NCDs up the political agenda and to agree to ambitious, time-bound and action-oriented targets. We need these kinds of commitments to help translate national cancer control plans into meaningful changes for patients nationally.

Second is that the process of getting to the meeting is as important as the outcome document. For cancer advocates the relationships built during the HLM preparation process will be critical to successfully following up and monitoring how governments are meeting these and other national commitments, like those identified in the 2017 cancer resolution.

Finally, that civil society groups can make a real difference during the negotiations. As cancer organisations UICC members have unique perspectives on the strengths and challenges for national cancer services and these can and have been used by governments to help inform global and national commitments. But to achieve this impact we need to identify a number of clear shared political advocacy messages.

What to expect from the process?

Modalities resolution

This document sets out the practicalities for the meeting, meaning that it is very important for setting up a successful HLM. Measures contained within the modalities resolution include the date, length and timing of the meeting; the Member States coordinating the meeting and outcome document development; the level of participation; outline of the agenda and speakers desired; and the opportunities for civil society participation. With this in mind, UICC working with the NCD Alliance to call for a number of key measures in the modalities resolution

UICC worked closely with the NCD Alliance, our members and the Permanent Missions in Geneva to advocate for a strong modalities document – you can read the modalities resolution here

Outcome document

Whatever the outcome of the HLM, the document will be negotiated by the permanent missions of Member States, supported by the relevant ministries in country capitals and technical experts. We are keen that these negotiations take place in New York to maintain the status of cancer and NCDs as a political issue, not purely a technical health one.

For a meeting in September we expect that the negotiations would take place April-July, providing cancer and NCD advocates with a clear window during which they can work with their governments to push for a number of clear asks. The negotiations take places in numerous rounds starting from a Zero draft – after this input from multiple member states will be incorporated over time, with new drafts of the document being made available.

How to get involved?

Interested in getting involved in this process? Please contact advocacy@uicc.org to join Can25, UICC’s Advocacy network, and keep an eye out for information on upcoming webinars or events from UICC or the NCD Alliance.  

Last update: 
Friday 7 June 2019