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What’s so controversial about adding cancer to the global health agenda?

The “High-Level Meeting” at the United Nations that we’re watching carefully on this blog this week is largely overshadowed by the big drama over Palestinians asking for U.N. recognition as an independent state. Still, the debate over “non-communicable diseases” is starting to enter public consciousness.

Case in point: As your intrepid Humanosphere blogger, Tom Paulson, is arriving in New York from Seattle, to report on the meetings, an interview is airing Monday across western Washington on KPLU.

You can listen to the interview above. Paulson explains to KPLU’s Keith Seinfeld why it’s a controversial to discuss whether poor countries should start worrying about cancer and diabetes – as much as malaria or AIDS.

“What’s controversial about it is that the global health agenda is already at risk of being cut, due to the economic downturn, and we are not even doing even what we want to do with contagious diseases,” Paulson said. “AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis. (For example,) most of the people who are infected with HIV who can use these drugs aren’t getting them, and now we’re talking about expanding the global health agenda.”

It’s going to be a busy week in New York at the UN. There is a UN General Assembly meeting, the High-Level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Social Good Summit. Paulson will be reporting back on Humanosphere about the meetings and the discussions.


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Humanosphere will sometimes post articles from authors from around the globe. Although these folks are not regular contributors, we hope you enjoy this change of pace.