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What's so controversial about cancer? Ask the U.N.


Some of the leading disease experts from Seattle are visiting the United Nations this week. They’re at a "High-Level" meeting to discuss whether poor countries should start worrying about cancer and diabetes – as much as malaria or AIDS. 

That's a controversial idea, says KPLU’s Humanosphere blogger Tom Paulson.  He's in New York to cover the meeting. Before he left he explained the controversy to KPLU’s Keith Seinfeld.

"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. 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 there and reporting back on Humanosphere about the meetings, the discussion, and the big question:

"It is the big elephant in the room at this meeting. Triage is a battlefield term where you decide to let some people die," Paulson said. "Nobody wants to talk about that. Nobody wants to pit one disease against another, so it is going to be a difficult discussion."

Keith Seinfeld has been KPLU’s Health & Science Reporter since 2001, and prior to that covered the Environment beat. He’s been a staff reporter at The Seattle Times and The News Tribune in Tacoma and a freelance writer-producer. His work has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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