Major Thrust to Improve Responses to Non-communicable Diseases

By Bobby Ramakant, Citizen News Service – CNS

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are causing two-third of deaths worldwide. There is no doubt that latest launch of a robust programme to help civil society work on improving responses to NCDs is a welcome step forward. The NCD Alliance launched a new programme, formally called “Strengthening Health Systems, Supporting NCD Action” at The Economist event “New Approaches to Non-Communicable Diseases” in South Africa, where experts discussed strategies to accelerate the prevention and control of NCDs.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease – kill approximately 36 million per year, with 80% of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. If current trends continue, this figure is projected to rise to 52 million deaths by 2030.

Governments agreed at the recent World Health Assembly to a global target to reduce overall preventable NCD mortality by 25% by 2025. Reaching this target will now require significant progress at the country level, through government leadership and robust policies, and a strong NCD civil society presence.

The new NCD Alliance programme is designed to build the capacity of NCD civil society, to monitor national progress on NCDs and advocate for improved NCD policies and the strengthening of health systems. This programme, funded by Medtronic Philanthropy, will award more than US $300,000 over two years to local partners in Brazil, South Africa and the Caribbean region to build networks of action, conduct national level research and analysis to monitor progress on NCDs and identify gaps, develop dialogue with governments and other key stakeholders and advocate for improved NCD policies, programmes and health systems strengthening.

Speaking at The Economist event, Katie Dain, Director of Policy and Campaigns of the NCD Alliance said “Now is the time for national action on NCDs. Civil society has a key role to play in supporting governments meet their global commitments. The NCD Alliance’s new programme ‘Strengthening Health Systems, Supporting NCD Action’ will help build the capacity of civil society to inspire action and accountability on NCDs, and ensure meaningful change for the millions of people at risk or living with NCDs today.”

“For more than three years, we’ve been working with influential global stakeholders such as the NCD Alliance to help ensure that countries are equipped to turn global policy direction into national implementation,” said Dr. Jacob Gayle, Vice President, Medtronic Philanthropy to Citizen News Service – CNS. “To increase access to chronic disease care for people worldwide, especially the underserved, it will take a concerted effort to strengthen overall healthcare systems. This is a promising step in the right direction.”

The NCD Alliance was founded by the International Diabetes Federation, the Union for International Cancer Control, the World Heart Federation and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).