Nerissa Cook

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, International Organization Affairs, U.S. State Department

The political declaration about NCDs that U.N. member states have negotiated [will] put a great emphasis on prevention. I think a lot of us recognize that by waiting until disease has taken effect and disability is already in place, we’re actually ending up spending more money than we would if we could work more intensely on preventive measures.

It will also put an emphasis on strengthening health systems. This is going to be very important in this world of austerity. You need to take advantage of systems already in place and add the NCD component. An example would be maternal and child health programs. You can add in neonatal care, which then can help reduce low birth rates and have an impact on NCDs. You can do alcohol screening, tobacco screening, diabetes screening. And that’s a cost-effective way of getting the word out and providing care.