Princess Haya Calls for Action to Protect Health in the Developing World

By Office Of Hrh Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, PRNE
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GENEVA, February 24, 2010 - Tobacco use encouraged by aggressive marketing and growing obesity linked
to poor diets and physical inactivity endanger millions of people in the
developing world, Princess Haya Al Hussein of Jordan said today at a
conference hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a keynote address at the Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet)
Global Forum in Geneva, Princess Haya cited the direct link between unhealthy
lifestyles and a host of life-threatening illnesses. The WHO estimates that
nearly 2.6 million people die annually in developing countries from
noncommunicable illnesses related to inactivity. More than 3.6 million people
in the developing world died from tobacco-related illnesses in 2004.

"The global tobacco industry has started to exploit the developing world
by using the same marketing and lobbying tactics perfected — and often
outlawed — in the developed world. The industry now targets women and teens
to use tobacco while pressuring governments to block marketing restrictions
and tax increases — the same tactics it has used for decades to boost sales
in developed countries," she said.

The Global Forum, which was opened by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General
of the WHO, marked the first time key stakeholder groups have convened to
address the large-scale and increasing global health and development burden
posed by noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs, mainly heart disease and
stroke, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases claim more than 35
million lives each year, accounting for 60 percent of all deaths worldwide.

More than 80 percent of NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income
countries, where population sizes are high, access to high quality healthcare
is often limited and health promotion programs are rare.

Princess Haya, a former Goodwill Ambassador for the World Food Programme,
also highlighted the link between poor nutrition and obesity.

"Malnutrition and obesity may seem mutually exclusive, but, in fact, the
two are linked by their common origins in poor diet," she said. "The cheap,
low-grade and processed foods that make adults fat, starve children of
absolutely essential nutrients. Children who are malnourished and underweight
during the first two years of life are damaged for the rest of their lives."

She called for a concerted effort by non-governmental organizations,
governments, schools and private sector organizations to address the
underlying causes of noncommunicable diseases.

"The good news is that obesity in children is largely preventable by
improving diets and increasing their participation in physical activity," she
said. "We must cut the amount of fatty, sugary foods in their diets. And we
must provide children with opportunities to engage in aerobic exercises like
biking, running and swimming for at least 60 minutes each day," she said.

Princess Haya's role at the forum was an outgrowth of her longstanding
interest in health-related issues and her work as UN Messenger of Peace,
which focuses on efforts to combat poverty and hunger.

NCDnet is a voluntary collaborative network comprised of WHO Secretariat
staff, an International Advisory Council, WHO regional NCD networks and the
NCDnet Global and Regional Forum meetings. Over 100 people representing
different geographic regions met to address the NCD gap in the development
agenda and the mobilization of support. Attendees included HRH Princess
of Belgium, Duchess of Brabant; Dr. Ala Alwan, Assistant
Director-General, WHO; Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive
Chairman, World Economic Forum; Julian Schweitzer, Acting Vice-President,
World Bank; and HE Laurette Onkelinx, Vice Prime-Minister and Minister of
Social Affairs and Public Health, Belgium, to name a few.

Lara Al Nagi of the Office of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, +971-4-329-2333, info at, or Ron Hutcheson, +1-202-425-2304, rhutcheson at, for the Office of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein

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