74th World Health Assembly – May 2021
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Statement on Agenda Item 13.2
Non-Communicable Diseases and Oral Health
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes the resolution on oral health. It shows that the burden of oral diseases disproportionally affects the most marginalised communities. We are particularly glad to read that efforts will be intensified to control noma disease.
Noma is a necrotising disease affecting mainly children from the poorest communities. It starts in the mouth and quickly leads to disfigurement and stigmatisation. Data suggest that up to 90% of people with noma die, with one model estimating 140,000 deaths annually. However, noma is actually preventable and treatable and should not exist anymore.
MSF recommends that the World Health Organization (WHO) recognise noma as a neglected tropical disease (NTD) of highest importance. This would put a spotlight on the disease and facilitate the integration of activities against noma with other public health programmes. Additional efforts are required to end the neglect of noma.
MSF also welcomes the discussion on prevention and treatment of diabetes including access to insulin. The majority of people worldwide living with diabetes are unaware of their diagnosis, and fewer than half of people with diabetes who need insulin have access to it, 100 years after its discovery.
Member States and WHO should transparently document prices of – and address the price barriers for – insulin and the medical supplies needed for its delivery and monitoring. WHO should guide Member States on increasing the number of quality-assured sources of biosimilar insulin. MSF strongly supports WHO’s proposal to set global targets for diabetes diagnosis, treatment and control, in line with HIV’s 90-90-90 targets.
WHO Member States must support a resolution to make all the tools needed for diabetes care widely accessible and prioritise improving access for those people for whom access to insulin is a matter of life or death.