INTERVIEW

Dr. Akira Matsumori

Committee member of World Heart Federation Academic and Policy Plan/Director of Asia Pacific Society of Cardiology

Activities that represent different parties would be necessary in promoting cross-related chronic-disease control. By combining the four chronic-diseases, we can create a system that allows multi-stakeholders such as the government, corporation and civic organization to work together in order to promote NCD control.
The activities in the World Heart Federation, Asia Pacific Society of Cardiology and Asia Pacific Heart Network
World Heart Federation is eager to work with the government, healthcare workers, patients’ organizations and individuals, to achieve its missions in trying to reduce the stress and suffering accompanied by heart disease and stroke, so that we can prolong and increase quality of lives. World Heart Federation is largely divided into four regions, Asia Pacific Ocean, Europe, Africa, North and South America. It is a joining team of academic organizations from all these four regions. Asia Pacific Society of Cardiology was set up in 1956, and consists of 17 individual member countries. Asia Pacific Health Network is a foundation that works closely together with Asia Pacific Society of Cardiology.

Asia Pacific Heart Network aims to improve measures of local health, and work on issues such as tobacco control, and rheumatism management through promoting civic centered activities with a particular focus on Asia.
Actibities for NCD
Originally, the movement of NCD control began seven or eight years ago in the Caribbean Civil Society in the Caribbean. After that, WHO has taken up the issue, and then a global campaign was launched. The NCD accounted for 60% of the total mortality in the world, where many of them are low-and middle-income developing countries. In response to this critical global challenge, a momentum was born that the World Heart Federation has also began to pour its strength into the tackling of this issue.

Although in Japan, we have more cancer patients than other three chronic-diseases, however almost more than half of the people suffering from NCD in the world are cardiovascular disease patients. The common risk factor for both cancer and cardiovascular disease is nevertheless smoking. However, very little efforts had been put into tobacco control, and sadly to say, this is the same with the global heart societies and foundations.  As we believe the importance of making the relationship of smoking and heart disease widely known in the public, Japan had started to work seriously on tobacco control from three years back, in collaboration with the World Heart Day organized by the World Heart Federation. With an addition to that, we had specially pick up the issues of lack of exercise from all the other risk factors (tobacco, dietary intake and alcohol) to organize a walking event for the World Heart Day this year, as NCD became one of the major themes. It is believed that walking is an important thing to do, as it prevents and improves cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease and diabetes. We are also going to put more focus on symposiums this year, to deepen awareness against NCD among the healthcare workers and general public through academic support, so that we can spread the concepts of NCD control.
The desired cross-related chronic-diseases control
In Japan, we have very little advocates on cross-related chronic-diseases, and this is really not going to change the local situation without cross-cutting measurements. However in the US, the academic societies such as the International Society of Cardiology works together with various players in different fields to promote its cause. For example, the academic societies work towards realizing policy such as lowering the tax for the company that develops healthy food. In Japan, we can probably increase the taxes for tobacco and liquor, where the taxes increased can be used to cover the healthcare cost.  

I believe that with NCD Alliance as a major theme, where all the four disease are combined, it is easier for the government, corporations, civic organizations and other stake holders to cooperate with one another in order to promote these activities. As Japanese are strongly health-conscious, if there is a certification mark that indicates that the food is healthy food, then probably, everyone will buy it even if the price is slightly higher than the other food.

Each country would have its own specific issues, particularly in healthcare and economy. However, Japan, by pouring its effort in NCD control, is confidence in sharing our knowledge to Asia. Asia Pacific Society of Cardiology mainly works in Kansai region at present, yet we do hope to make our activities more nationwide.

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