Lords debates the global 'epidemic' of diseases of affluence

06 October 2011

The House of Lords discussed the worldwide epidemic of non-communicable diseases in a debate on Thursday 6 October. These include cancer, diabetes, lung disease and chronic heart disease. Current methods of addressing the problem appear to be failing.

Two-thirds of annual deaths are from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The 'big four' – cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease – are often called diseases of affluence. However, as societies develop more of these diseases become more prominent and a higher proportion of these deaths in developing countries occur in people aged under 60.

Lord Crisp (Crossbench), who tabled the debate, explained: 'We need this debate to talk about what needs to be done to tackle the worldwide epidemic of these preventable diseases, as traditional methods of combating them are obviously no longer working.'

He said: 'At the world summit, which Health Secretary Andrew Lansley addressed in September, it became apparent that we need to look at community-based, preventative measures. I want to use this debate to ask the Government what actions they will take to help increase awareness of these diseases - not just in the UK, but globally.'

Contributors to the debate

Lord Crisp opened the debate (use links to watch/listen to the contributions).

Other speakers included:

  • Lord May of Oxford (Crossbench), former Government Chief scientific adviser and Head of UK Office of Science and Technology
  • Lord Kakkar (Crossbench), Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons
  • Baroness Murphy (Crossbench), former Chair of City and Hackney Community Services NHS Trust, East London and City and North East London Strategic Health Authorities and St George’s Hospital Medical School
  • Lord Rea (Labour), former lecturer at St.Thomas’ Hospital Medical School and GP, and member of the National Heart Forum
  • Lord McColl of Dulwich (Conservative), former Opposition Spokesperson for Health,  and former Chair of the Department of Surgery at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital
  • Baroness Hayman (Crossbench), former Vice-chair of Health and NHS Trusts, former Chair of Cancer Research UK and former Opposition Spokesperson for Health. This is the first time Lady Hayman has spoken in the Chamber after standing down as Lord Speaker.

Other Members who took part included Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Labour), Baroness Masham of Ilton (Crossbench) who have personal experience of non-communicable diseases; and Lord Collins of Highbury (Labour), and Lord Roberts of Llandudno (Liberal Democrat).
Earl Howe (Conservative) responded on behalf of the Government.

Further information

Members of the public can attend House of Lords debates and follow proceedings from the public gallery.

Image: iStockphoto

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