Statement to WHA74: FIGO on NCDs

FIGO submitted the following written statement to the 74th World Health Assembly on Monday 24 May 2021 under agenda item 13.2 – the political declaration of the third high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

FIGO's written statement

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics strongly supports the global action plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs have been the leading cause of death among women for more than 30 years – over 60% of deaths each year, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

One in three women will die from CVD, and clinicians are less likely to predict and recognise CVD in women. Recognition, risk stratification and long-term prevention strategies are important steps to prevent premature death from CVD.

For women, pregnancy is often considered the “window” to their future health, because six well-recognised pregnancy complications or occurrences predict long-term risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

What are these risks?

  • Parity exceeding five offspring increases cardiovascular risk fivefold.
  • For the 8% of deliveries associated with low birth weight (<2500 g) there is a two-fold increase in cardiovascular disease and death.
  • Preterm deliveries are associated with a 1.2–3-fold risk of CVD, even in normotensive deliveries.
  • Gestational diabetes – associated with upwards of 10% of pregnancies – is associated with a seven-fold lifelong risk of diabetes and concomitant risk of CVD.
  • Hypertension in pregnancy results in a four-fold risk of hypertension later in life, and two-fold risk of thromboembolic diseases.
  • Obesity in pregnancy is associated with up to a four-fold lifelong risk of diabetes, hypertension, CVD and death.

Pregnancy can be considered a physiologic “treadmill test” because 80–90% of women conceive at some time, and 30–40% of women have at least one risk factor from pregnancy that can lead to long-term health problems. Therefore, about 30% of women have a predictor of long-term CVD. Using pregnancy to identify risk and creating lifelong prevention strategies is an effective approach to improving women’s health – and the best preventive medicine we have.

Read all of the statements FIGO submitted to this year’s World Health Assembly.

The WHA74 statement portal also contains statements made by other non-state actors in official relations with the WHO. You can watch all recorded sessions of the WHA on the WHO website.