Derek Yach: Now’s the time to start thinking about chronic diseases

Derek Yach

Derek Yach, PepsiCo

Most informed people still equate “global health” almost solely with communicable diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis as well as maternal and child health. The reality however is that non-communicable diseases (NCD), especially comprising heart disease, diabetes, cancers and chronic lung diseases are today by far the major causes of death and disability in all WHO regions with the exception of Africa. Even more concerning is that the underlying causes of these diseases including tobacco use, unhealthy diets and obesity, alcohol, and physical inactivity are increasing as risks in all developing countries.  

Today I will be moderating a session at CUGH on Prevention and Control of Chronic Diseases and am excited to see so many of the top academia and global health leaders on these issues coming together to discuss such crucial topics as the tobacco epidemic, diabetes and mental health.

These conversations will be critical as we are just one year away from the UN Summit in New York during which heads of state will address non-communicable diseases and hopefully agree on actions to prevent further increases. Having spent many years at the World Health Organization where I addressed chronic disease prevention and control, and now being at a major food company, it has been clear that the potential for innovative private public partnerships will remains an untapped and crucially needed route to successful public health impact. Over the last decade we have seen how such partnerships have spearheaded new product development for infectious diseases, new funding mechanisms that have created markets for needed vaccines for developing countries and effective ways of leveraging corporate capabilities to address micronutrient needs. We now need to apply lessons learned from partnerships such as the Global Alliance for Vaccinations and Immunizations (GAVI), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) to chronic diseases and their common risks.

So now is the time to get organized for next year’s Summit.  CUGH members and conference participants, academia and researchers, food and other industry leaders: now is the time to start thinking about what your role is so we can put the strongest data, ideas and commitments on the table and have a strong clear voice at the UN Summit next year.  New UNICEF and WHO data have shown how much progress has been made over the last decade in addressing key MDG targets.  Let’s use the extraordinary breadth and depth of committed global health leaders present in Seattle to chart a new path for NCD control that rests upon academic excellence and capability 

Dr. Derek Yach, Senior Vice President, Global Health Policy, PepsiCo, Inc. will be moderating Prevention and Control of Chronic Disease at the conference at 1:45 pm in room Kane 220. His recent summary of industry actions to address chronic diseases is available at:


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