Esteemed President of Turkmenistan, Madam Regional Director, ministers, participants of the conference,
I would first like to thank our host country, Turkmenistan, for your generous hospitality. I am grateful to the WHO (for organising the conference and) for the opportunity to address this conference. I stand before you not as an elected official, because I am not, but as a medical doctor, a mother and wife, who for a number of years dealt with the issue of non-communicable diseases, both publicly and privately.
Why should we be concerned about non-communicable diseases? In 2000 the UN General Assembly agreed to the Millennium Development Goals, in which, in the section devoted to healthcare, focussed on maternal and child health and on communicable diseases. Unfortunately the Development Goals left out diseases that are also communicable, but not through bacteria and viruses. These diseases are socially communicable, we create these diseases ourselves and through our behaviour. We also can pass them on to our friends, our children and others around us. Moreover, we must recognise that a role is also played by those who produce and market the products that cause these diseases.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
A few years ago I called upon my compatriots in Estonia to avoid artificial trans-fats, the fats, created when hydrogen gas is used to treat liquid vegetable or animal oils to make them solid or semi-solid. These have been in use as cheaper substitutes for animal fats in processed foods. The link to heart disease was only scientifically proven in the early 1990s.
I suggested to the parents of our pre-school-age children to put healthier candy (or fruit) into their Christmas stockings instead of candy containing trans-fats. Many shrugged their shoulders in incomprehension, many in our food industry thought that I was incompetent and was endangering a successful domestic industry. I did not, however, back down. Eventually, when the media feeding-frenzy died down and people seriously examined the scientific literature, they changed their minds. And started to read the labels in the food stores.
The First Lady's Foundation of the Cultural Foundation of the President of the Republic and Nordea Bank are announcing the spring application round for the Young Athlete's Prize. The deadline for the submission of applications is 4 April 2014 (incl. date on postal stamp). The prize per recipient will be up to 3,200 euros. For the second time, applications can be submitted for a team prize, which will be 3,200 euros.
Evelin Ilves, who is currently on a working visit to the headquarters of the European region of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Copenhagen, has accepted the proposal made by the Regional Director of the organisation, Zsuzsanna Jakab, to become health spokesperson in the sphere of noncommunicable diseases.
Today, Evelin Ilves presented prizes for young athletes at the Office of the President of the Republic to the power boating world champion Rasmus Haugasmägi, sailor Marie Pihlas and athlete Margit Kalk. The team prize was awarded to the junior group Diamonds of the rhythmic gymnastic club Janika.