Panama, June 12, 2015. After assessing the health situation and progress towards healthy food policies, tobacco and alcohol controls and promotion of physical activity, experts and representatives of major health and consumer protection organizations identified strategies for the next five years. Given the significant increase in overweight and obesity in the region, nutrition was a main focus of these conclusions.
CLAS agreed on a series of documents, statements and regional positions among which the following stand out:
• To promote the negotiation and approval by the World Health Organization (WHO) of a global treaty for the protection and promotion of healthy and sustainable food to ensure food security and sovereignty. This treaty would be sustained by the obligations enshrined in international human rights treaties, and free from the interference of the interests of the food and beverage industries and partner organizations that produce, promote practices and/or adopt policies that hinder the protection of public health.
• Recommendations to protect public health policies from the interference of the industries that produce ultra-processed foods, sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and other products posing a risk to health. Ultra-processed foods are those that are calorie dense and low in nutrition such as many salty and sweet snacks and fast foods.
• Recommendations to nations and supra-national governmental organizations to strengthen the adoption and implementation of public policies for the prevention and control of NCDs in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be discussed and approved at the United Nations Assembly in September 2015.
• Guidelines for a CLAS advocacy work plan to influence, at a national and regional level, the design of public policies in order to reduce the determinants of NCDs (unhealthy food, tobacco consumption and exposure, excessive consumption of alcohol, and sedentary lifestyle) based on the protection of human rights and the protection of public health especially in the most vulnerable social groups.
Latin American experts were convened by the Healthy Latin American Coalition (CLAS), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Ministry of Health of Panama, to strengthen the response of civil society to the significant increase of products that are health hazards and which undermine the health of our populations. Given the strong lobby by the ultra-processed food, sugary drink, alcohol and tobacco industries, this mobilization is necessary for strengthening the action of governments in the region to ensure that health is prioritized over the economic interests of these industries. The response of states is not only necessary from a public health perspective but also enforceable according to human rights treaties, including the protection of the human right to health and adequate nutrition.
Non Communicable Disease or NCDs, also called chronic, are the leading cause of death in our countries and include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes. There is evidence that 3 out of 4 people in the Americas dies of NCDs. A diet low in saturated fat, salt and sugar, and high in fruits and vegetables and whole grains, an active lifestyle, free from tobacco, with non-harmful use of alcohol, lead to reduced NCDs and fully enjoying life with less risk of these diseases.
InterAmerican Heart Foundation
The InterAmerican Heart Foundation is a non-governmental non-profit organization dedicated to reducing heart diseases and stroke, and related non-communicable diseases, in Latin America and the Caribbean region, and to promote health through research, advocacy, public awareness and education. It has members and affiliates in almost all countries in the region.